The Day of the Dead

When I recently visited Riviera Maya, Mexico this Autumn, I couldn’t help but notice a marked prevalence of all things macabre on sale in just about every shop, in  every size, every colour (including day-glo) and every variety (intricate tissue paper cut-outs called papel picado; elaborate wreaths and crosses decorated with paper or silk flowers; candles and votive lights; and fresh seasonal flowers, particularly cempazuchiles or marigolds). To an Anglo-Saxon sensibility, it’s a little overwhelming to be so potently reminded about our mortality but for the Mexicans, I am told that all this merchandise is to celebrate the Day of the Dead and to honour lost ancestors – 1st November (All Saints Day) and 2nd November (All Souls Day).

Thanks to Clara in the Viceroy Riviera Maya’s Mexican arts and crafts focussed boutique, the festivals swiftly lost their ghoulish associations and she showed me some more stylish Day of the Dead adornments  which she called Catrinas available in the boutique.  These Catrinas are around USD65 each and certainly seem a little more designer orientated than those out on the stalls in Playa del Carmen!

From various sources, it appears that different regions in Mexico celebrate the festivals in different ways but common to all are a proliferation of colourful adornments, lively gatherings graveside, preparations of special foods with offerings laid out on commemorative altars and finally – religious rites which may include some flash, bang wallop fireworks!

I am further told that 1st November is set aside to remember deceased little ones or angelitos (little angels) whilst on 2nd November, adults are celebrated.

Red hot gun-toting Mama!  Smoking …

If you happen to be staying at Viceroy Riviera Maya at the beginning of November, the property will be following the tradition and will set up an altar in their Library area on both 1st and 2nd November.  On 2nd November, they will also offer a Day of the Dead special menu consisting of mucbilpollo, pan de muerto and hot chocolate. Price USD25 per person, excluding tax and service.  

Thank you to Mex Connect for providing information on the Day of the Dead.

Contributor:  Sue Lowry

Viceroy Riviera Maya is a client of Magellan PR.  Follow on Twitter @ViceroyRM, become a fan on Facebook/ViceroyRM or visit

Magellan PR is on twitter:  @MagellanPR, on Facebook/MagellanPR, Flickr, Google + and Pinterest.  For more information on our company, visit  Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller.

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About magellanstraits

Magellan Straits showcases the observations & musings from Magellan PR, a boutique travel & lifestyle agency founded in 1998. We post items that are of interest from the clients we promote and from the travels and experiences that we independently undertake.
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