Dia de Los Muertos in Cozumel, Mexico
Dia de Los Muertos is a sacred tradition among the Mexican people. The day of the dead celebration is a time for the living to pay homage to their dead ancestors.
But did you know that you can experience Dia de Los Muertos any day of the year? It’s true. We learned and experienced about the day during a tour of the Mayan Cacao Company on the Mexican island of Cozumel.
The experience was part of a shore excursion we took during a cruise to the island. Our daughter did not want to take excursions with large crowds. So we looked to this simpler, smaller excursion for our family. We were four of the 15 participants who took part in the educational experience.
What is Dia de Los Muertos?
The celebration of the day of the dead takes place on November 1. It is a day when the living can honor and remember dead relatives. The living build ofrendas (altars) with pictures of deceased relatives, candles, and food offerings.
The Catrina, a skull with a bonnet and flowers, is a recognized symbol of the celebration. The Dia de Los Muertos is the day when the dead souls come back to mingle with the living.
Dia de Los Muertos has become popularized in recent years with Disney’s film “Coco.”
Our experience began with our guide meeting us at the cruise ship port. He wore black and white makeup, making him look like a skull.
From the port, we went by car to the Mayan Cacao Company. The company offers chocolate tours , the sacred food of the Mayan people. If you would like to learn more about these tours, you can read about our chocolate tour.
We, however, were at the Mayan Cacao Company for the Dia de Los Muertos Tour. We were able to visit the gallery and the Mayan hut, where we indulged in hand-made tortillas.
Then, we moved on to our open-air covered patio to learn the history of Dia de Los Muertos. During the talk we learned the significance behind the symbols of the celebrations including the papel picado, the Catrina and Catrin, and the marigolds.
The Dia de Los Muertos Ofrenda
After the discussion, we got to work. Each party had an ofrenda to decorate for the celebration. We decorated the basic wooden structure with articles provided in a box.
Our mission was to create an ofrenda that resembled a true to life one. We picked from a number of objects, knowing that our altar needed pictures of the dead, as well as candles, food and flowers to attract the deceased.
Our guide walked from one station to the next, offering suggestions and praise.
Creating our Catrin and Catrina
After assembling our ofrenda, we went to another covered patio area for a craft project.
We received six inch paper skulls, representing the Catrin (male skeleton) or Catrina (female skeleton).
We decorated the skulls with colored markers, crayons, beads and other craft supplies. The finished products have an attached magnet for us to hang on the refrigerator door.
After the creative experiences, lunch was served. Tamales, tortillas, and hot spicy drinking chocolate. Following our lunch, we toured the Mayan Cacao Company gift shop, tasting many samples, and purchasing some fantastic chocolate. Then is was back in the car to our cruise ship port.
This is a quiet, more relaxed experience. It was perfect for our family, since the kids did not want to be around a large group of people. The small group size was great for us. Also, we tapped into our creative side with the activities, which was fun.
You do get to learn something about the Mexican culture and leave with a greater appreciation for the Dia de Los Muertos Celebration. Finally, the experience takes just 2 hours, leaving plenty of time for other island experiences.
If those qualities appeal to you, this is a great, economic experience for you.
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