Celebrating Halloween and Mexico’s Dia de Muertos tradition in Cancun

Are you in Cancun or the Riviera Maya this week for Halloween and Dia de Muertos on November 1 and 2, one of Mexico’s most famous traditions? If so, there’s plenty in store for you at Royal Resorts and as you explore the area.

Halloween Trick or Treat at The Royal Haciendas

The Activities team at The Royal Haciendas in the Riviera Maya has lined up a number of special Halloween activities for October 31. For starters, join them at 3 p.m. in the Multiple Events Area for The Royal Haciendas 10th Anniversary weekly party. At 4 p.m. it’s Piñata Time, bring your children and grandchildren to take turns to hit the piñata and grab the candies that fall out when it breaks. At 4:30 p.m., there’s Trick or Treating for the little ones and yet more candy! A movie follows at 6 p.m.

Commemorative The Royal Haciendas 10th anniversary Dia de Muertos t-shirts will be on sale with proceeds going to the Royal Resorts Foundation community and conservation causes.

Cancun Trick or Treating

There are special Halloween children’s activities at the Activity centers today in the Cancun Royal Resorts too.

If you are staying at The Royal Caribbean or The Royal Islander bring your children to The Royal Caribbean Activity Center. The fun starts with decorating Halloween candy baskets at 10 a.m., face painting and a special surprise activity. Then there’s trick and treating and a costume contest followed by a Halloween piñata at 4 p.m.

At The Royal Cancun, children can make their own baskets and Halloween masks and then line up after lunch for some scary face painting. Trick or Treating is at 2 p.m. and the piñata is at 3 p.m.

Halloween activities for children at The Royal Sands begin with hand prints, finger painting and candy basket decoration. There’s a surprise activity at noon and face painting at 2 p.m.. Trick or treating is at 3 p.m. and the event concludes with piñata fun at 4 p.m. Ask Activity staff for more details.

Dia de Muertos

From orange cempasuchitl marigolds and flickering candles to cut tissue paper depicting skeletons, sugar candy skulls and impressive altars laden with offerings of food and flowers, symbols associated with Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) Mexico’s most famous fall tradition are everywhere you look this week.

Dia de Muertos is celebrated on November 1 and 2 the length and breadth of the country. At this time of year, Mexicans believe that the dead return to the world of the living for a short time. They welcome their loved ones back with altars bearing photos of the deceased, food and drink that they were partial to, treasured possessions, flowers and other offerings. Candlelit graveside vigils are held with prayers, food, flowers and even serenades.

The Mayan Day of the Dead is called Hanal Pixán, which means “feast of souls.” Throughout the Yucatan, families make the pilgrimage to the cemetery to visit the graves of their loved ones and erect altars to honor the souls of children and adults.

As night falls on November 1, the Maya bekieve that the dead draw near to dine and they prepare a feast for them. Tables laden with offerings of mucbilpollo, large chicken tamales wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a pit and gourds of tan-chucua, a thick corn drink flavored with crushed cacao beans, pepper and aniseed are set up under the trees outside the house. Pumpkins, squash, corn, bread, fruit, sweets, honey cakes and flowers are added to the altar, candles are lit and incense burns. The family spends the night in prayer and vigil. The next day they eat the mucbilpollo, washing it down with gruel, chocolate or balche, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey and the bark of a tree.

You’ll see Dia de Muertos altars in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Valladolid and Merida.

Xcaret Festival of Life & Death Traditions

If you are planning a day at Xcaret this week, you’ll have the chance to participate in its annual Festival de Vida y Muerte, the Festival of Life and Death, which showcases the beliefs and traditions associated with Dia de Muertos. Held on October 30, 31, November 1 and 2, the Festival features processions, altars, a mass, traditional cuisine, art exhibits, music, dance, theater, concerts, children’s events, and a visit to the colorful Mexican cemetery.

This year, groups from different parts of the guest state of Puebla have joined the Mayan communities from central Quintana Roo and Yucatan that always participate in the Festival. They will be giving festivalgoers a glimpse of their rich traditions, such as the Huey Atlixcayotl fiesta in honor of San Miguel Arcángel and Quetzalcoatl, which brings together processions of pilgrims from the 11 ethnic regions of the state in Atlixco to celebrate with dances and ceremonies.

Communities from the northern mountains of Puebla will erect their Day of the Dead altars and handicrafts from all over the state will be on display, including Talavera ceramics, trees of life from Izucar de Matamoros and embroidered textiles. Puebla’s famous chicken in mole sauce, tinga stew, tamales, cookies and candies will be on the menu.

Famous Mexican actor Ignacio Lopez Tarso and singer Lila Downs (gala concert on November 1 and 2) are both returning to the Xcaret stage this year.

Book your Xcaret visit with Thomas More Travel. Call in at the tour desks in Royal Resorts or check www.thomasmoretravel.com

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