The traditional Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, has been celebrated in San Pedro Town. Â Early on November 2nd, mass was held at the community cemetery. Â Afterwards, the community altar was blessed during the Hanal Pixan celebration. Â The two events are part of a wider festival that celebrates the return of spirits to the living realm to be honored by their loved ones.
Coordinated by the San Pedro Cultural Committee, and with help from the San Pedro Roman Catholic Church and several volunteers, the Hanal Pixan was successfully celebrated by all those in attendance. Â The Mayan term means Âfood of soulsÂ and in the San Pedro region, food takes a vital part in celebrations as spirits return to the living world to enjoy the cuisine they once indulged in.
In Mayan culture, loved ones were buried in the backyard rather than in cemeteries, with each individual having corn placed in their mouth to sustain their journey whilst in eternal rest. Â Between October 31st and November 2nd, Hanal Pixan is celebrated as deceased loved ones return to the living realm and spirits are honored by friends and family. Â As part of the rituals, an altar is created in which food is placed; typically the favorite of those who have departed. Â Cuisine and seasonal fruits, including oranges, papaya sweets, escabeche and atole de maiz, are also carefully placed around the altar. Â In addition, herbs, candles, photos of the dead and marigold flowers are used to decorate the sacred area. Â Finally, on the evening of the celebration, a green wooden cross is placed in a central position above the altar to represent the Ceiba tree.
The first day, October 31st, is called U Hanal Palal and is dedicated to children. Â During this time, youngsters wear a red or black cloth bracelet on their right wrist so theyÂre not taken by the dead. Â November 1st is known as U Hanal Nucuchuinicoob and focuses on adults who have passed. Â Finally, November 2nd is named U Hanal Pixanoob; a time when mass is held and people say goodbye to their departing loved ones once again.
For all those who took part in the celebrations, the event was a huge success, with participants remembering their loved ones and children being taught the importance of the festivities.