A couple of days ago excitement was in the air with the school children as they compete to see who can make the nicest altars in the grounds of their particular school. Yolanda with a school friend came by to pick flowers from the garden, specifically looking for the flower known as Amor Seca a purple flower which is very common to use on the altars at this time.
They left with armfuls on their way to borrow someone’s pig. I offered Louis Miguel ,my lamb, they hesitated for a moment then said no..
Her cousin was busy making a wooden batea (what they used to use to wash clothes in)to make the surrounding Maya casita look more realistic.
She came by again for more flowers today and I asked her how did go …. One could see the sadness in her eyes as she told me they had lost.
I replied, maybe you should have taken Louis Miguel with you as he speaks Spanish, to which she chuckled.
But today she was helping her school friends build another altar, in the park across from the Palacio, where tonight all will be ready for an exhibition with lots of participants and mostly children of all ages.
Along with the Amor Seca she took with her Aruda(rue a very powerful healing plant) and Albahaca (Basil) to adorn the altar.
Hanal Pixan (food for the souls) is one of the most important if not the most important traditions in the Yucatan.Also know as the day of the dead,or all saints day.
As the souls are called in October 31st for the children and November 1 sr &2nd for the adults it’s a time of remembrance and celebration with favourite foods adorning the altar table along with personal belongings, photos, hats, cigarettes (if the deceased had smoked)and maybe alcohol .Foods that you will see on the altars are varied … Xec a fruit salad with oranges,grapefruits and jicamas, Atole ,a drink made from corn ,water, salt and sugar or honey,Xocolate chocolate drink . Sweets like Yucca ,Papaya ,Ciricote and even squash ( Calabasa) all cooked until softened then added sugar or local honey. Candles and incense are burnt whilst prayers are said.After the offering before indulging the following words are said.
Yesterday the dead took the essence now we the living eat the fat
A visit to the cemetery where most re paint ,clean and arrange fresh flowers at the grave.
The families that practice this tradition will gather in one house, the famous Mucbilpollo, a kind of pie with corn dough filled usually with chicken a white sauce( Kol) and wrapped in banana leaves and cooked. A little is usually put on the altar for the souls and the rest eaten with gusto as the families gather around the table to eat and socialize.
The conversation always leads to talk of the deceased of the family and stories of apparitions and souls in torment. This oral tradition being handed down keep s the return of the dead to this world, alive.
There are those that make a small altar to the side with candles , food and water for the solitary soul who have no one to remember them on Earth or who had no known relatives or a roving traveler whose body disappeared without anyone to come looking for it .
This way no one is left out…………………As in life too no one should be left out we are all this together. Not only in death should we remember someone but in life too!
Jackie Kennedy and King Hussain