If you happen to get your fill of sunshine and sandy beaches while visiting Cancun this fall, consider checking out one of Mexico’s favourite cultural traditions—Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos.
Held every year on Nov. 1 and 2, the holiday sees families pay homage to their departed loved ones by decorating altars with marigolds, sugar skulls and the once-treasured items of the deceased. Here are three ways to celebrate:
Life and Death Traditions Festival
Head to the Life and Death Traditions Festival at Xcaret, Oct. 30 to Nov. 2. By day, visitors to this archaeological park snorkel through its maze of underground rivers. But when the sun sets, Xcaret transforms into an eerie playground for the living and the dead. Visit the “Bridge to Paradise” in the “Mexican Cemetery” and walk through a candlelit labyrinth with hundreds of decorated altars.
Take a trip with local tour company Alltournative to the traditional Mayan village of Tres Reyes. There you can watch villagers perform Hanal Pixan, a traditional Day of the Dead ritual that involves setting up a table to serve as an altar with candles, flowers and food.
Pan de muerto
Taste the traditional bread of the dead, or pan de muerto. Families bake this slightly sweet, sugar-sprinkled bread that’s placed on altars. Bread offerings provide nourishment for the departed soul’s journey along the treacherous Road to Mictlan (the resting place of the dead).