Hanal Pixan in the Time of Covid19
We are now entering into the revered time of Hanal Pixan or as you might know it, Day of the Dead. Hanal Pixan means “food for the souls” in the Mayan language. It is celebrated on November 1, for the souls of children and on November 2, for the souls of the adults and consists of lavishing the returning souls with prayers and filling an ephemeral alter with photographs, their favorite foods, drinks, as well as material items that represent their passions or hobbies.
Hanal Pixan is a deeply spiritual and treasured tradition in Yucatan. In a “normal” year without a deadly pandemic, countless hurricanes, floods and ley seca, Yucatan starts to liven up as early as October 25th and you can find many events to celebrate this special time of year. Schools, businesses, and the city council all hold celebrations, alter exhibitions, traditional dancers with face painted as skeletons and much more. You would be invited to eat “pib” which is a special tamale that is elaborated specifically for this sacred time of year, and is offered as food for the loved ones who have passed away. The paseo de animas parade starts off the week where hundreds of people paint their faces as skulls and march in silence with candles from the cemetery to the Centro. This event draws thousands of people and is an incredible sight to be seen. The “pib” fairs, music, and the markets are abuzz with people buying special items for the altars made to receive their loved ones on Nov 1 and 2nd.
This year of course will be very different. Not only do we continue to be isolated because of Covid19, but we are also in the middle of the aftermath of a hurricane and what will happen in the days to come is still unknown. Although there will be some online events you can participate in and you can eat your pib or pan de muerto, for the most part all public events for Hanal Pixan this year are cancelled.
As goes this year, we are destined to reflect on our lives, ourselves and the power of nature. We also embody, even if by default, solidarity with everyone on the planet. We are all living through the same natural disaster and in a way it is comforting to know that nearly all 7.5 billion of us are wading through this year, for better or for worse. For this reason, this Hanal Pixan, I encourage everyone to take the time to really embrace this all souls tradition and immerse yourself in the culture. This is a profoundly spiritual and healing time of year. It is when our ancestors come back to visit us, to assure us that they are okay, that we are okay. It represents and celebrates the infinity and mystery of life.
In saying that, maybe this year instead of watching and participating from an outsider perspective, we can fully assimilate this heritage and be in unity mindset with the Yucatecans and Maya who have created this tradition over centuries. Make Hanal Pixan something that is part of your interior life, not just something you observe from a distance. I encourage you to find a calm space, quiet yourself, connect with your surroundings. Call in your ancestors, make your altar, light candles, be with yourself and your loved ones. Listen to the nature around you, prepare your ancestor’s favorite food and set it out on the altars for them to come and visit you on Nov 1st and 2nd.
To understand in depth the tradition of Hanal Pixan go here:
To know where to get Pib this year:
To know where to get the best Pan de Muerto go here: