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Day of the Dead’s Most Traditional Elements

Honoring Day of the Dead at Sandos Caracol Eco Resort

Just like every year, Sandos Caracol Eco Resort will be celebrating Mexico’s famed Day of the Dead with two days of culture, traditions and festivities for our guests. During your vacation at Sandos Caracol, you can see beautiful Catrinas strolling through the hotel, visit a traditional Mexican cemetery, and experience many other surprises.

Here in Mexico, Day of the Dead takes place on November 1 and 2; on these days, the souls of the deceased return to Earth to visit their families. Each family welcomes their deceased loved ones by visiting cemeteries by night and setting up altars in their homes where the souls can go to enjoy their favorite foods during their brief annual visit to the land of the living.

Cementerio Día de Muertos

The Meaning Behind Day of the Dead Elements

At this time of year, you’ll see candles everywhere as well as the famous “flor de muerto” (marigolds, also known as “cempasuchil” in the Nahuatl language); the candles and flowers help to guide the souls to the altars and the cemeteries so they can find their loved ones waiting for them there. Each Day of the Dead altar includes a variety of traditional elements, all with their own meaning and purpose:

  • Sugar skulls: Known as “calaveritas”, these skulls represent the deceased (sometimes they are made of chocolate, too).
  • Marigolds and candles: The flowers and candlelight show the way to the altar.
  • Papel picado: This colorful paper cut into elaborate designs represents the link between life and death.
  • Cross made of lime (dust): This cross is created on the floor in front of the altar, representing the four cardinal points.
  • Pan de muerto: The traditional bread of Day of the Dead represents a gift from the Earth and from the host, and its designs simulate a skull and crossbones.
  • Food and personal items: Each altar includes the favorite things of the deceased. Typically, these are foods, drinks, photos, personal items, toys for kids, etc. It’s also common to use seasonal fruits.
  • Copal incense: This purifying incense helps the souls to pass from the world of the dead to the world of the living.
  • Plate with salt: A way to purify the soul
  • Glass of water: The water strengthens the souls so they have the energy to return to the world of the dead.

Día de Muertos altar con calaveritas

Día de Muertos altar Riviera Maya

Celebrating Day of the Dead in the Riviera Maya

The Day of the Dead celebration at Sandos Caracol Eco Resort also blends all the most essential traditions of this magical time of year. If you’re vacationing at our hotel on November 1 and 2, 2016, you can join our two nights of festivities to honor the dead here in the Riviera Maya, Mexico. In addition to Catrinas, altars and the cemetery, we’ll also have food stands serving Mexican cuisine, roaming bands playing Mexican music, a Day of the Dead makeup stand, theme art and so much more so you can celebrate this holiday in authentic Mexican style. You can see the full itinerary for this event by clicking here.

And here is just a taste of last year’s Day of the Dead event at our hotel:

This Day of the Dead celebration is one of the four annual events in our Xcalacoco Experience; we also celebrate Maya and Mexican culture through our other events honoring the Equinoxes and Solstices. The Xcalacoco Experience is our program of activities designed to experience the natural surroundings and Maya heritage of the Riviera Maya, with numerous eco activities every day plus our nighttime Maya shows in stunning outdoor settings, as well as the four Xcalacoco events each year. To learn more about this program, visit us at

We hope to see you here at Sandos Caracol Eco Resort on November 1 and 2 for Day of the Dead!

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