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Cemeteries and festivities will be open this year for Hanal Pixan celebrations

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Unlike last year, when restrictions applied by the state and municipal governments kept the cemeteries closed during the last days of October, this year the municipal cemeteries will be open to the public.

Cemeteries of Yucatán will welcome guests during the final days of October. Photo: Courtesy

In certain municipalities, like Motul and Kanasín, cemeteries started welcoming guests who come to prepare the graves of their deceased.

Workers from the Tizimín cemetery have already cleared weeds around the graves, painted certain areas of the tombs, and placed flowers around the property. Some are hired by private individuals to wash the tombs, repair them and make aesthetic changes, a saturated service at the moment, due to the high influx of visitors. 

Night visits are specially popular during the Hanal Pixan celebrations. Photo: Courtesy

In a specific area of the Peninsula — Pomuch, Campeche — there’s still a tradition to dig up the dead on the days of Hanal Pixan.

Visitors are common during the dig-up festivities in Pomuch, Campeche. Photo: Guillermo Novelo

During the last days of October, families go to the cemetery to clean the bones of their dead. First, the small bones are cleaned, then the arms, the ribs, and finally the skull, which is when the process ends. During the ritual, they pray or talk with their loved ones. They also tend to place flowers, candles, and embroidered tablecloths over their bones.

This tradition is celebrated in other parts of the world, but in the Yucatán Peninsula, it is only found in Pomuch, Campeche. Photo: Guillermo Novelo

The tradition has become a popular stop for tourists visiting the state, but restrictions might be in place this year because of the pandemic. 

In addition to traditional visits to graveyards during the final days of October, the city of Mérida will celebrate the Festival de las Ánimas, with different activities surrounding the tradition of Hanal Pixan — which means “food of the spirits” in Mayan and represents the Day of the Dead in the Peninsula.

Altar installation for Día de las Ánimas in 2019. Photo: Courtesy

This year it will be presented in a hybrid manner, meaning that some will be held in person, but others will be entirely online starting October 24 to November 2. The program of activities is available at: www.merida.gob.mx/animas

In Yucatán Magazine: Yucatán cancels Xmatkuil fair and Hanal Pixán altars at Plaza Grande

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