Posted November 1, 2002 by Kay Walten in Mexican Culture,Riviera Maya events
This is an ancient festivity that has been much transformed through the years, but which was intended in pre-hispanic Mexico to celebrate children and the dead. Hence, the best way to describe this Mexican holiday is to say that it is a time when Mexican families remember their dead, and the continuity of life.
The original celebration can be traced to the festivities held during the Aztec month of Miccailhuitontli, ritually presided by the goddess Mictecacihuatl (“Lady of the Dead”), and dedicated to children and the dead. The rituals during this month also featured a festivity dedicated to the major Aztec war deity, Huitzilopochtli (“Sinister Hummingbird”). In the Aztec calendar, this ritual fell roughly at the end of the Gregorian month of July and the beginning of August, but in the post-conquest era it was moved by Spanish priests so that it coincided with the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve (in Spanish: “Día de Todos Santos,”) in a vain effort to transform this from a “profane” to a Christian celebration. The result is that Mexicans now celebrate the day of the dead during the first two days of November, rather than at the beginning of summer, but remember the dead they still do, and the modern festivity is characterized by the traditional Mexican blend of ancient aboriginal and introduced Christian features.
Generalizing broadly, the day’s activities consist of visits by families to the graves of their close kin. At the grave sites family members engage in sprucing up the gravesite, decorating it with flowers, setting out and enjoying a picnic, and interacting socially with other family and community members who gather at the cemetary. Families remember the departed by telling stories about them. The meals prepared for these picnics are sumptuous, usually featuring meat dishes in spicy sauces, a special egg-batter bread, cookies, chocolate, and sugary confections in a variety of animal or skull shapes. Grave sites or family altars are profusely decorated with flowers (primarily large, bright flowers such as marigolds and chrysanthemums), and adorned with religious amulets and (in smaller villages) with offerings of food, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. Because of this warm social environment, the colorful setting, and the abundance of food, drink and good company this commemoration of the dead has pleasant overtones for most observers, in spite of the open fatalism exhibited by all participants, whose festive interaction with living and dead in an important social ritual is a way of recognizing the cycle of life and death that is human existance.
The traditional observance calls for a feast during the early morning hours of November the 2nd, the Day of the Dead proper, though modern urban Mexican families usually observe the Day of the Dead with only a special family supper featuring the “Bread of the Dead” (pan de muerto). It is good luck to be the one who bites into the plastic toy skeleton hidden by the baker in each rounded loaf. Friends and family members give one another gifts consisting of sugar skeletons or other items with a death motif, and the gift is more prized if the skull or skeleton is embossed with one’s own name.
The Mexican Day of the Dead celebration is a holiday with a complex history, and therefore its observance varies quite a bit by region and by degree of urbanization. It is not a morbid occasion, but rather a festive time. The Day of the Dead can range from a very important cultural event, with definite social and economic responsibilities for participants (exhibiting the socially equalizing behavior that social anthropologists would call re distributive feasting, e.g. on the island of Janitzio in Michoacan state), to a religious observance featuring actual worship of the dead (whether Catholic priests recognize/approve of it or not, e.g., Cuilapan, Oaxaca), to simply a uniquely Mexican holiday characterized by special foods and confections (the case in all large cities.)
In general, the more urban the setting within Mexico the less religious and cultural importance is retained by observants, while the more rural and Indian the locality the greater the religious and economic import of the holiday. Because of this, this observance is usually of greater social importance in southern Mexico than in the northern part of the country, which is characterized by a more dilute Indian cultural influence.
Xcaret has an annual El Dia del Muertos Festival each year beginning Nov 1 and running until November 4. Check out Xcaret and what this eco and cultural park has to offer.
Riviera Maya Activities (218)
Mexican Art (61)
Community Organizations (27)
Mexican Culture (177)
Mexico Destinations (130)
Family vacations (97)
Food & Drink (237)
Guest Bloggers (20)
Riviera Maya Photos (304)
Riviera Maya events (80)
Riviera Maya Services (62)
Sustainable Tourism (113)
Vacation tips (58)
Destination Weddings (30)
Costa Maya (14)
Loco Adventures (43)
Mayan Ruins (40)
Riviera Maya Destinations (251)
Community Announcements (20)
Mexican Recipes (36)
Riviera Maya Restaurants (74)
Mindful Traveler (49)
Yucatan Activities (47)
Riviera Maya Vacation Tips (152)
Mexico Vacation Tips (163)
Restaurant Reviews (8)
Interview with a Local (15)
"Both in 2011 and this year we have booked our room through Locogringo.com. We searched and found a great rate at the resort we wanted, and then Locogringo met that price, and with their booking came their amazing customer service and the peace of mind that if we need anything while we are there we simply need to call. I always get a fast turnaround on any email I send them, and they work so hard to find us the best rates and the rooms we want. We hope to have a long relationship with them, and recommend their site to everyone we know."
--Tim A and Teri A, Salem, UT
"LocoGringo.com books total trip packages and I recommend LG to all my friends and even to strangers I hear talking about going to Mexico!!"
"I just wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU! The trip we booked through Loco Gringo was perfect! The price was exceptionally good and the service was second to none! If you’ve never booked with Loco Gringo before, we *highly* recommend them!"
"I had contacted you before I left for my first trip to Mexico and all of your recommendations were spot on. I started in Playa Del Carmen and worked my way to Tulum. I had only expected to stay 2 nights there and instead wound up staying for a week-and that still was not nearly enough time. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks! I will be checking in with you guys as I am tring to plan a trip to Holbox next. That place looks amazing!"
--Louis Skip Gonzalez, Unidos Magazine
"...for your patience with me and making this process go soooo much smoother! I truly appreciate you and the staff at LocoGringo. Thanks again! I can't wait to be sitting on the beach!
Maggie in Colorado"
"Go to the home page or check the forum."
"Loco Gringo has an AWESOME website with great info, it is lots of fun to visit, be sure to join their forums. The forums hold more information and trip reports than you can 'shake a stick at'!"
"And their amazing website is one of the main reasons we started going regularly to the Riviera Maya and especially Akumal. No other place around the Caribbean has nearly as good a web presence as LG has given this area."
--Dan, St. Louis MO,
"She & her new Husband had a fantastic hassle free trip. This was their very first time to Mexico and her comment upon return was " Dad, 7 days is NOT enough time ! " Super job, LG."
--Bernie in Denver,
"Now is a great time to tell you how wonderful you and your staff are at making it so easy to find and book the best vacations, THANK YOU !"
--Joyce & Hugh,
"I will be bragging about your site to any and all who will listen. Our experience was phenomenal!!!"
"We spent a lot of our time sitting on the second floor porch with our feet propped on the railing just staring at the water. Coming home was hard this year..Staying for two weeks still wasn't long enough."
""I was soooo delighted with the Loco Gringo services. Everything was trouble free and all my questions were always answered promptly. Thanks for a GREAT trouble free vacation!""
"We usually need reservations for 2 to 4 people but for 2 years we needed reservations for 7 to 9 people, adults and kids and they have always done a flawless job in getting the resort we wanted and at the best price too!!"
"You always recommend amazing accommodations and we are always comfortable and feel safe. Your staff does a fantastic job at making our vacation each year a ” hassle free ” experience ! All we have to do is ” show up ” and the rest is already taken care of. We will continue in future to use LocoGringo and also continue as we have done already, to highly recommend your company to anyone we know that is planning a vacation."
--Nancy & Bill, Toronto, Canada
"So here is a GREAT BIG TEXAS THANK YOU TO LOCO GRINGO for all the awesome, fantastic vacations in Paradise."
"quick and informative replies from Bart ( thanks Bart) , easy booking procedure plus online management of your booking . I am highly impressed."
--Theressa - Middlesex U.K.,
"Not sure if we will be returning next summer, but will definitely let you know if we are, as Loco Gringo is the ONLY way to go for us!"
--Lesley P., Texas
"People who “live the area” will want to make sure you enjoy your vacation and come back again!"
"I have booked most of my Mayan Riviera trips through Loco Gringo and can only say I wouldn't even consider using anyone else to handle my bookings for stays in that area.
Their booking process is simple, fast and friendly, and they will answer your questions and queries until you are completely satisfied that every single detail has been taken care of.
Who else would know the area better than folks who live and work right there? Try to get that level of expertise and knowledge with a booking agent who lives and works several hundred, or even thousands of miles away.
Not only that, but they are genuinely nice people as well, who really care for their customers and the community and area that they call home
Keep up the great work Loco Gringo!!"
"Thanks for everything you have done with Locogringo… the site is great and your staff has been nothing short of incredible when it comes to helping us plan our trips. Maybe we’ll run into you on one of your walks some day."
"We have been Booking our Riviera Maya vacations from Loco Gringo since 2005. Always Great communication, helpful tips and quick responses to our questions. They were especially helpful when Hurricane Wilma hit and put a stop to our Vacation plans. They made sure we knew about the weather situation and did all the work with re-booking our vacation in Paradise!"
"and for the past five years we have used Loco Gringo for every reservation, I'm sorry that we did not find them sooner.
I have been searching Loco Gringo for all these years and one thing I have not yet found ........... someone who is not fabulous to work with. Great people, great owners and a great way to run a business."
--K & DB, Outer Banks, NC,
"I would recommend Locogringo to everyone I know. It is such a great service that they provide from researching and booking the perfect place to stay to finding all the needs you could possibly want during your stay. Thanks Locogringo."
"All our Riviera Maya trips have been booked using LocoGringo. We love their service."
"It is like having a friend make your reservations for you .... we always feel comfortable knowing LG will be in charge of our arrangements because they know the area first hand, they live there ..... you ask a question and they answer it with good humor and great knowledge of what they speak. I will always recommend Loco Gringo in a heart beat!"
"It's a great comfort to visit the Riviera Maya and know that Loco Gringo is there to help, if needed. "
--Bryan in IN,
"Loco Gringos is the VERY BEST booking site I have ever worked with. They respond to emails promptly, work hard to honor special requests, answer questions etc. They ALWAYS take great care of their customers and are conscientious and professional at all times. We have booked 8 trips with this company and NEVER hesitate to use them or recommend them when traveling to the Riviera Maya."
"A company made up mostly of American Expats living in the Riviera Maya with a booking list of many hundreds of properties. Big enough to know each property intimately and small enough to know each customer personally. A level of service simply impossible for the giant companies to provide.
--Jim T., Colorado
"When we use LG to book a trip we get immediate help with all of our questions in a very timely way by people who know what they are talking about and are extremely helpful, patient, knowledgeable, and congenial. They really get how to do customer service.
Once we book through LG we never have to worry about any of it again. We are always amazed at how smooth and trouble free our bookings through LG have been."
--K.B., Fort Worth, TX
"What an amazing company Locogringo is. Every silly question I have.... they answer , If something comes up like a travel day change, adding more people, or whatever it might be... you get a response from a real person ... who seems to love what they do . That is hard to find these days and I really appreciate that."
* Denotes A Required Field
How much are you thinking about spending?