Hanal Pixan: Food for the Souls, Day of the Dead in Yucatan 2024

Hanal Pixan: Food for the Souls

October 28 – November 5, 2024


Hanal Pixán is the name given to the Day of the Dead celebrations of the Maya people who live in the Yucatan Peninsula. The term literally translates as “food of souls” in the Mayan language. In this region, food takes on a special meaning as traditional dishes are prepared for the spirits who are believed to return on this day to visit their families. The holiday is a way of celebrating and honoring deceased family members and friends.
Many of the traditions surrounding Hanal Pixán are similar to Day of the Dead celebrations in other parts of Mexico. The holiday stretches out over three days. Families set up altars in their homes and decorate graves in the cemeteries. The spirits of children who have died return on the night of October 31st, and a special offering is prepared for them, and spirits of adults come on the following night, and there are different items placed for them on the altar. On the third day (November 2nd), a special mass is said for the souls of the dead.


Hanal Pixan


  • Learn about concepts of death in Mexico’s Prehispanic past
  • Visit Chichen-Itza at day break
  • Learn about sacred spaces of the Maya in caves and cenotes
  • Visit Hoctun Cemetery
  • Explore the Golden City of Izamal and learn about “syncretism”
  • Swim in refreshing cenotes
  • Visit artisans in Teabo and other communities
  • Purchase quality huipiles, hammocks, hats, guayaberas, gourds and other craft and dress diretly from the aritsans
  • Cenote Nayah and Teabo
  • Visit Altar Display in Merida
  • Explore the Puuc Hills and Uxmal
  • Visit Pomuch, Becal communities of Campeche
  • Explore Campeche City


Itinerary Outline:

DAY ONE: Oct. 28, Arrive Merida (D)

Depending on arrival times, you’ll transfer to the centrally located hotel in Merida. We’ll enjoy a light walking orientation tour to begin to get to know the “White City”, our home for the next few days. In the evening, we’ll enjoy a festive Yucatecan welcome dinner, and you’ll soon see that Yucatecan food is not the same as “Mexican” food. (D)


DAY TWO: Oct. 29, Early morning departure and visit to Chichen-Itza (B, L)

Rising early, we’ll have an opportunity to visit the late post classic city of Chichen-Itza, land of the Itzá people. By visArriving on the early side, we look forward to beating the high sun and the high crowds, but we’ll be visiting very specific locations at the site, relevant to the topic of life and death. For example, the Tzompantli, or Skull Platform, and the Sacred Cenote, will help us understand the important and necessary role death and sacrifice had in the ancient Maya world. And, how cenotes and caves were, and still are considered portals to the underworld, by the Maya people. We’ll visit a cenote to see how this geologic landscape does indeed lead to the underground. Returning to Merida, the evening is at leisure. Overnight Merida (B, L)


DAY THREE: Oct. 30, Hoctun Cemetery, Golden City of Izamal (B, L)

Today we visit an important cemetery at Hoctun. Here, we begin to learn about the “syncretism” of the two worlds: the ancient pre-Hispanic Maya world and the Catholic Spanish world. We’ll continue to the Golden City of Izamal, again to see the co-mingling of these two worlds. We’ll have a delicious lunch in Izamal, before departing for Merida. Evening in Merida at leisure. (B, L)


DAY FOUR: Oct. 31, Acanceh, Teabo, Lunch in Mani, Cenote Nayah (B, L)

Today we visit the fascinating and charming town of Acanceh. Here, once again, we have a side-by-side, co-mingling of the Prehispanic and Catholic worlds.  We have a very special young guide who will joyfully lead us through her town, to be sure we admire and understand what is going on! From here, we’ll visit the special Maya community of Teabo to meet a special aritsan and her family.  We’ll learn about home altars in living Maya communities, and have lunch on typical and delicious regional foods, such as cochinita pibil and poc chuc in the town of Mani. Jumping into nearby cenotes, not only will we refresh in these aqua blue sink holes, we’ll learn how cenotes were portals to the underworld for the Maya people. Returning to Merida we’ll enjoy an evening at leisure, in this city that is always pulsating with music and dance. (B, L)


DAY FIVE: Nov. 1, Visit Altar Display in Merida, Tour Merida, Overnight Merida  (B, L)

Hanal Pixan Altars go on display in the Main City Square (Zocalo) in Merida. Here, the people display their finest assemblies of foods, gourds, drinks, fruits, flowers, decorations, and photos of their loved ones. We’ll learn what each element on the altar represents. Since were staying in Merida, we’ll have time to enjoy this beautiful city known as the “White City”, given the lovely tropical, colonial architecture of this city. We’ll also tour the neighborhoods, such as Santiago, La Ermita and others.


DAY SIX: Nov. 2, Santa Elena and the Puuc Hills (B, L)

Today, we travel to the Puuc Hills region, to see where the Maya of the Classic Period settled in these gently rolling hills. Sites such as Kabah, Sayil, and Labna are in this region. We’ll make stops in small villages and to visit some talented artisans, before arriving to Uxmal, where we’ll relax and enjoy a “pib” style lunch poolside. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure, before we head out at night where we’ll be introduced to Chac, the rain god, as he is beckoned during the Light and Sound show here at night. Some call it “campy”, but it is an exhilarating experience to enter Uxmal at night!.


DAY SEVEN: Nov. 3, Visit Calcehtok Cave, Pomuch and Becal in Campeche, Experience mucbipollo underground cooking/tamale tradition, overnight in Campeche (B, L)

We’ll enter an extraordinary “mouth” in the ground, the cave of Calcetok, a ceremonial site and once again, entry or portal into the underworld. In this deep and mysterious underworld, we’ll see evidence of offerings made to the ancestors. And, if this is not enough, in Pomuch, Campeche, we’ll witness the singular ceremony of the cleansing of the bones, a tradition where family members wash the bones of their loved ones each year. We end our day experiencing the underground cooking of the mucbipollo tamale, the most important and symbolic food during this period of the Hanal Pixan. We arrive in Campeche and check into our hotel. Evening at Leisure


DAY EIGHT: Nov. 4, Explore Campeche City (B, L, D)

Today we will spend exploring the UNESCO World Heritage City of Campeche, characterized by land and sea walls, built to protect it from attacking pirates during the 17th-18th Centuries.  We’ll visit the Fuerte San Miguel, an archaeology museum, followed by a lovely meal overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at Faro del Moro. We’ll stop at the State run Craft Store to see and purchase the charming crafts of this region. In the evening, we’ll enjoy “panuchos” at the Portales de San Francisco!

DAY NINE: Nov. 5, Return Flights or Extend

Return Flights from  from Merida (MID)

Pictures related with this trip








« | »