Saturday, November 5, 2016

Two holidays merge in Playa del Carmen

Playa is one of those places where you find yourself in the middle of something special every day, and autumn is no exception.  The fall holidays of “Halloween” celebrated on October 31st in North American and the Mexican “Día de Muertos” on November 1st have much more in common than you might think.  Both are major celebrations in Playa del Carmen, with some very interesting shared aspects.

What they have in common

Halloween is a shorted form of the event, All Hallows Evening.  It is widely believed that this holiday comes from Celtic harvest festivals and was later Christianized as Halloween.   In the U.S. and México, Halloween is a night of celebration, costumes, trick-or-treating and parties. In other parts of the world, Christian communities celebrate Halloween by attending church, lighting candles by the graves of their dead and eating certain food on this vigil day.   Although Halloween is a more commercial and secular celebration in North America, its roots are very similar to the ones from the Mexican holiday.

Día de Muertos is a Mexican celebration that dates from ancient pre-Columbian cultures. The festival known today as Día de Muertos fell in the 9th month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of august and was celebrated for an entire month.  The celebrations were dedicated to the goddess “The Lady of the Dead” (Mictecacihuatl) known today as “La Catrina”.  After the colonization, gradually the dates were moved to November 1st and 2nd to coincide with Western Christian triduum of All Hallow Tide.

Mexican traditions during this holiday include visiting the grave sites of loved ones, decorating them with flowers, and setting up altars to their deceased loves one with offerings like food, candles, flowers, candies and music.  Usually the offerings are based on the favorite foods that the deceased person once loved.

The altar itself has a purpose and a deep meaning as it represents the travel of the deceased to the land of the living for one day. The offerings are usually the same you would give a loved one visiting your house.   Some items include things such as a figure of a dog to keep the deceased company on his/her way back to the land of the dead.

Playa is keeping up with the Holidays

On vacation one thing you know for sure you’ll take back home is a great experience.   Playa lives up to its potential and this year was no different. The Halloween celebrations went through the roof last Monday.  The worldwide famous 5th Avenue was filled with thousands of tourists and residents wearing their best costumes. 

Every year the streets are filled early in the evening with kids and their parents trick-or-treating, taking pictures and admiring all the amazing costumes parading through 5th Avenue.   Late in the evening the adult costume parade begins and the party starts. Every night club hosts special parties with amazing decorations, costume contests with great prizes and incredible shows.  Weekend is just a word with no meaning in Playa, so it doesn’t matter if it’s Monday or Friday, the party goes on all night and you can see costumes in several stages of decay.

As Halloween goes by Día de Muertos is ready to take over the holidays with very special and incredible celebrations.  The best theme park in the Mexican Caribbean, Xcaret, hosts a great event called Festival de Vida y Muerte from October 30th to November 2nd.   This special event is an extreme cultural experience with music, performances, decoration, special effects and history.  Famous national singers perform at this special ceremony to honor the death.   

Xcaret is celebrating its 25th anniversary and this year’s celebration will be very special.  5th avenue is decorated with Catrina, flowers and perforated paper, special food is offered in several restaurants such as pan de muerto, calaveritas de azucar and many other traditional dishes for the day.

So now you know whether you are looking for a costume party or an intense cultural experience, Playa has it for you.  Playa is a cosmopolitan place with residents from all around the globe. This gorgeous city by the sea is embracing several worldwide holidays and we are loving it. We have our eyes set for this year’s Thanksgiving and we are sure it’s going to be great!

Did you know... ?