The day of the dead in Cozumel Mexico
My name is Karen Bloemhoff and although originally from the Netherlands.
I have been living in Cozumel Mexico for almost 2 decades.
Although I am a Mexican now, my husband is Mexican and my son was born on the island of Cozumel so he is Cozumeleño. I am a licensed real estate broker in Cozumel Mexico and LOVE what we do and we love to share everything that is so special in this country.
Over the years we have celebrated the day of the dead in our family together.
I would like to share some details of this amazing celebration with you.
Hopefully you will find the same beauty in this celebration as my family and I have.
The Day of the Dead – Día de los Muertos – is a holiday traditionally celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, throughout Mexico. It is a joyful celebration where we honor and remember friends and family members who have passed away.
Altars – ofrendas
We create altars – ofrendas – in our homes, schools, public places and on the main square in Cozumel, with pictures and personal items of the deceased to remember them as part of life.
If you go visit the cemetery in Cozumel, most likely you will find altars that are intended to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the words of the living directed to them.
The ofrendas are very colorful using marigold flowers (cempasúchil in the language náhuatl).
The color of the flower symbolizes the sun which our ancestors used in the offerings dedicated to honor their dead. Traditionally paths are made with the cempasúchil flowers, from the main road to the altar of the house in order to guide the souls to the altars. The flower was considered by the Mexica as a symbol of life and death.
On the altar we put dishes and drinks that our loved ones enjoyed while they were with us. We put traditional dishes on the ofrenda like pan de muerto and sweet sugar skulls – calaveras.
In our family we have tamales and the typical mukbil pollo or píib which many locals prepare on these days.
Try it when you are visiting the island on these days as it is super yummy!
To explain this holiday I always say to the visitors from abroad to go and see the Disney movie ‘Coco’. It explains the traditions so well and the movie has so many details.
In 2008, the tradition was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Last year we visited San Andrés Míxquic which is a small town just south east in Mexico City.
This small town attracts millions of visitors from all over the country and the globe during the celebrations.
There are both ritual and cultural events lasting from 31 October to 2 November, and culminate in the Alumbrada, when the cemetery that surrounds the community’s main church glows with thousands of candles and smoke from incense the evening of 2 November. This community was designated as a “Barrio Mágico” by the city in 2011.
Parade in Mexico City
In the James Bond film; ´Spectre´ there is a parade in Mexico City during the dia de Muertos. It did not really exist back then. After the movie the government now organizes a HUGE parade every year in Mexico where millions of people from all over the world come to celebrate this holiday together.
Our family finally made it to this parade last year in 2021 and we cannot wait go back to see it again!
This year there are many activities planned in Cozumel starting the weekend before.
Feel free to send me a message so I can share the itinerary of this year with you.
The festivities started with our own alumbrada at the cemetery and an AMAZING parade over the 5th avenue, the Melgar and the main square.
Also if you can make it to Xcaret during these days by night they organize an unforgettable experience and I am sure we will bump into each other in Cozumel or in Xcaret this year!
Written by Karen Bloemhoff – a proud Mexican!
The museum in Cozumel every year organizes an expedition where local artists show their art relating the festivities.
In the year 2020, I had the honor to hang one of my paintings in the exhibition!
Check out what the museum has to offer have this year!