“You’ve probably heard of the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos or “Day of the Dead.” Since my ancestors were Mayans who originated from Yucatan, Mexico, we sometimes celebrate the holiday with a different name: Hanal Pixán.
Hanal Pixán and Dia de Los Muertos are practically identical, except Dia de Los Muertos was inspired by Aztec festivals and Hanal Pixán was created by Mayan culture. Whether one was inspired by the other is unknown, but, in modern days, the holidays are interchangeable due to their similarities.
For Hanal Pixán, my family goes to an annual “Day of the Dead” festival in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to celebrate with other Mexicans and Latin Americans. We decorate our faces as sugar skulls, and my mother and I wear traditional Mayan dresses. We usually parade the streets with enormous puppets and posters while other members hold candles and pictures of their passed loved ones.
At home, we make sure our house is clean the day before. The reason for this is because we want the ghost of our ancestors to feel welcome. We tie red ribbons on the children, so our ancestors won’t accidentally take them when they leave. We also set their favorite foods on the table, which often includes traditional Mayan cuisine, like chimole, tamales, tortillas, arroz con frijoles, and spicy hot chocolate, next to beautiful altars dedicated to them.
Hanal Pixán has become more important recently since my Maya great-grandmother, who raised my father, passed away two years ago. She was an important part of my family and one of the reasons I am passionate about embracing my indigenous background. During this day, we also honor my mother’s brother who died at the age of 16 during a house fire, and my pet bird Kiwi who passed away a few months after my great-grandmother.
Hanal Pixán and Dia de Los Muertos are my favorite traditions