Day of the Dead in the Yucatan

During grad school I took a number of classes on Mayan art (including TAing a class on the concept of the apocalypse in 2012 when the Mayan calendar was purported to end), but I hadn’t been able to visit Mexico until now. I found this trip through the death studies friendly Morbid Anatomy group who teamed up with Borderline Projects for a Day of the Dead-themed tour.

The first day we went to the Festival de las Animas in Merida. Here there are athletes playing a Mayan ballgame Pok-ta-Pok where they hit the ball with their his and try to get it through a small hoop. A few of us had makeup done by locals and purchased a huipil (embroidered white garment for ladies) or Panameña (traditional white shirts for men). Those with the proper wear could take part in the procession, which represents the spirits coming from their graves and traveling back into the city.


The next day we went to a colorful cemetery in Hóctun where locals were repainting their family mausolea. We also took a bus over to Ixamal, known as the city of gold because of the hue of their buildings, to see the church and temple ruins.



The third day we were invited to go to the bone-brushing ceremony of the Cahuich Colli family in Pomuch and saw many other ancestral bones on display for the day of the dead.


Night three and day four we spent in Campeche, exploring the baroque churches and local food. On our way back, we went to see the Mayan complex at Uxmal.


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