A Day of the Dead tradition

Altars from the Maya community, Tlaxcala, Grupo Xcaret, and guests. 

The Day of the Dead is a tradition to commemorate life and death, in which Mexicans remember those who passed away, while celebrating their lives. Something very characteristic of this tradition, is the altars.

These altars include personalized offerings to loved ones who are no longer with us; personally, the most beautiful thing about this tradition is to see people and families gathered at the altars waiting for the visit of their deceased. As a curious fact, these “ofrendas” are usually placed since October 31st or even a few days before to receive the dead on November 1st, and finally, to say goodbye on November 2nd. 

altars

Without exception, Xcaret Park also celebrates with parades, shows, altars, and live music to commemorate these important dates. This year, the guest state is Tlaxcala, known for being the state of corn, and where the Day of the Dead is celebrated slightly differently. 

In the Festival of Traditions of Life and Death organized by Xcaret, for me, it’s already a tradition to visit the exhibition of altars and be amazed by people’s creativity. If you didn’t have the opportunity to go to the festival or missed any of them, don’t worry, I’ll give you a summary of this year’s altars.

TLAXCALAN ALTARS

As this year’s guest state, Tlaxcala brought seven altars to represent some of its cultural diversity and traditions. As in most states, Tlaxcalans are used to visiting their loved ones at the cemetery and making their altars. 

A unique offering is made when it’s the first year anniversary of someone’s dead. Unlike people who died in previous years, in this offering, they place more of their favorite food and new clothes, also distant relatives and friends carry extra candles for their altar.

Another tradition is that on November 2nd, the sound of the bells mark the farewell of the deceased who visited them. All the relatives gather at the departed’s altar, and together with incense and the “chiquihuite” of the “ofrenda” (bags with food and fruits), they walk from the altar to the door, symbolizing the departure of the dead and wishing an excellent trip to the world of the dead. 

This year there was a representation of an Ofrenda Tlalmanalli and altars representing the municipalities of Atltzayanca, Ixtacuixtla, Santa Cruz Tlaxcala, Contla de Juan de Cuamatzi, San Pablo del Monte, and Zacatelco.

TLALMANALLI OFFERING

Tlalmanalli-Offering

ALTAR OF ATLTZAYANCA

Atltzayanca-Altar

ALTAR OF IXTACUIXTLA

Altar-Ixtacuixtla

ALTAR OF SANTA CRUZ TLAXCALA

Altar-SantaCruzTlaxcala

ALTAR OF CONTLA DE JUAN DE CUAMATZI

Altar-Contla

ALTAR OF SAN PABLO DEL MONTE

Altar-SanPablodelMonte

ALTAR OF ZACATELCO

Altar-Zacatelco

ALTARS OF THE MAYA COMMUNITY

These altars are characterized by the presence of the guano palm, which is used for the roof, simulating a house. Also, unlike other altars, they use Yucatecan “jícaras” (natural vessels) to place offerings for their loved ones. 

It’s also customary to pray and at the end of this celebration, the slices of bread or fruits from the altars are given to those who visit. 

This year’s invited communities were: Chanchen 1 and 2, Kantemó, Xpichil, Kopchen, Xhazil Surv, and Uh May.

GRUPO XCARET ALTARS

Likewise, in Xcaret, employees represent their park, hotel, or work area, with an altar:

XCARET

Altar-Xcaret

XENSES

Altar-Xenses

XOXIMILCO

Altar-Xoximilco

XPLOR AND XPLOR FUEGO

Altar-Xplor

XEL-HÁ

Altar-Xelha

XCARET EXPEDITIONS

Altar-Xpeditions

HOTEL XCARET MÉXICO

HOTEL XCARET ARTE

Altar-HotelArte

GRUPO POLE

Altar-GrupoPole

PROJECTS TEAM

Altar-Projects

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES TEAM

PHOTO TEAM

Altar-Photo

HUMAN RESOURCES TEAM

CONSERVATION TEAM

Altar-conservation

GUEST ALTARS 

This year’s special guests were:

  • Tecnológico Universitario Playacar 
  • Tepeyac Institute Campus Xcaret
  • The Scouts group
  • DIF

ADDITIONAL ALTARS 

Finally, these extra altars were scattered through different areas of Xcaret Park (some were harder to find than others). If you missed them, here are some photos.

MUSEUM OF MEXICAN FOLK ART

Altar-MuseuFolkArt

REPRESENTATIVE ALTAR OF THE TORTILLA

Altar-Tortilla

REPRESENTATIVE ALTAR OF TLAXCALA

Altar-Tlaxcala

Undoubtedly, the Day of the Dead is a beautiful and emotional tradition, and what’s more representative and significant than an altar? I hope these colorful pictures inspire you to create your own altar next year.