The celebration of Hanal Pixan is a tradition of the Mayan culture in which family and friends that have gone before us are remembered. The Mayans believe that their souls return to dart each year to spend time with their loved ones. Preparations are made by the setting up of altars on which food is offered, this is why the celebration is known as Hanal Pixan “food for the souls”, Day of the Dead.
According to the Mayan tradition, death does not end lives cycle, and so the community attempts to create a welcoming and propitious environment. The 31st of October is the day dedicated to the children’s souls, the 1st of November is dedicated to the elderly, while the 2nd of November is dedicated to all of the souls that have passed.
The entire family participates in this event ; men procure maize, beans, squash, chicken, and wood for the fire pits; the women prepare the food and the favourite dishes of those who have passed and the children decorate the altars with flowers and by whitewashing the sidewalks that lead to them so that the way is clean and unobstructed.
Traditionally a table is used, wax candles, flowers, branches and photos of those who have passed are placed upon it. Food is also layer out and usually includes traditional dishes such as a mucbipollo and tamales; fruit such as jicamas, mandarines, and oranges; candies made of papaya, coconut and pumpkin seeds and last but not least sweet breads.
The mucbipollo a.k.a pib is basically a very large tamale made of a mixture of corn meal and lard, which is then filled with chicken and/or pork meat. All of this is wrapped in banana leaf packets and then placed in the fire pit. The fire pits are usually dug out of a patio at one of the locals homes, rocks and wood are used to provide heat and leave the tamales with a perfect consistency that will delight the palates of every family.