As Hanal Pixán draws near, communities across the Peninsula have begun to promote their upcoming festivities.
For a primer on the difference between Hanal Pixán and Día de Muertos, check out our feature “Día de Muertos or Hanal Pixán: What’s the difference?”
Historically, Hanal Pixán has been mainly a modest affair, with families coming together in the home of a patriarch or matriarch to share memories of loved ones who have passed away and eat mucbipollo, of course.
But as Hanal Pixán celebrations have begun to explode in popularity, so have the number of festivals hosted by different cities and towns.
“When people think of Cozumel, their mind goes right to cruise ships, margaritas, and beaches. We are, of course, proud of our tourism industry, but the island is a thriving community full of life and tradition,” says Cozumel’s Mayor, Juanita Alonso.
However, some feel that the over-commercialization of Hanal Pixán has begun to go too far, with even communities like Pomuch being targeted by tour companies looking to bring tourists in to observe customs like the Choo Ba’ak — a ritual that involves exhuming the bones of the dead to place them on an altar.
“We get that our traditions seem exotic to outsiders, which makes them curious, but this is a special time of year for us. We don’t need busloads of tourists coming to gawk at our dead,” said a Pomuch local named Guadalupe.
There is also the concern that the over-commercialization of Hanal Pixán threatens to alter its traditional practices.
For example, in several communities, activities now include screenings of the Disney Pixar film Coco, which deals with themes surrounding the Day of the Dead.
That said, people in Yucatán are fairly open to having visitors share in the fun. Be respectful and moderate the volume of your voice, especially during processions or near altars.