Do you know what the Day of the Dead is? If you were to buy Tulum real estate, and live in this traditionally Mayan part of the world, you would soon find out. The traditional Day of the Dead is called Pixan Hanal in Mayan, or the "Feast of the souls."
While Tulum, like the nearby Playa del Carmen real estate area, offers high-quality modern comfort in terms of homes and condos, it also offers close access to the rich traditions of the area. Under a warm sun and the incomparable turquoise Caribbean sea, many Mayans, Mexicans and visitors from other countries are immersed in music and mysticism to celebrate the traditional Day of the Dead.
While back home in the U.S. or Canada, the last day of October offers Halloween with its costume parties, haunted houses, magic, monsters and trick-or-treating, in Mexico people celebrate the strikingly different Day of the Dead on November 1 and 2. The holiday extends throughout the country, and but in the Yucatan area it is remembered in the ancient Maya tradition.
The belief is that from the night of October 31 to November 2 the souls of friends and family who have passed away, return to the earth to enjoy the pleasures and comforts they had in their earthly life. The celebration is not one of ghouls or frights, but rather of memory and comfort.
Throughout the state of Quintana Roo, the Hanal Pixan is one of the most significant traditions, still kept alive as a real living tradition and belief by the various Mayan communities, and even in many of the cities.
One of the most important elements is "altars" set up for any close person who has passed away – a family member or close friend. These altars are tables adorned with crosses, candles, pictures of the people, food (usually the favorites of the people being remembered), as well as flowers (Mexican marigolds of various colors, each with a different significance).
Some also believe that they must sweep their patios, paint fences and in general complete all unfinished tasks around the house, so the soul of the loved one will not feel obligated to finish the work instead of enjoying their gifts.
In terms of food Hanal Pixan is a celebration that is bursting with flavor. In order that all souls enjoy earthly pleasures, the people make the best dishes in large proportions, such as the special tamale called "mucbipollo." The term comes from the Mayan "Pib" which means "buried," referring to the fact that the tamale is cooked underground. These are left on the altars.
Residents who do not have the chance to enjoy the Day of the Dead in a traditional setting can also enjoy a very rich and elaborate presentation in the nearby eco-park Xcaret, which annually presents music, dancing, food and decorations of the Mayan tradition, as well as those from one other specially selected part of Mexico.
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