Every year in February, the island turns upside down. The streets are dressed for the occasion and filled with dancing. Cozumel's Carnival is the most important carnival in the southeast of Mexico. Not as big and famous as the one in Maztlán or Veracruz but with the magic of the Mexican Caribbean and the warmth of the people from Cozumel.
History tells us that the Carnival festivities originated from ancient rites devoted to the Gods of wine and flesh. Through time it has been banned in several epochs and countries because of the excesses of the festivity. Carnival is held in February and culminates on Carnival Tuesday, just before "Ash Wednesday" which marks the beginning of a time of religious meditation.
In Cozumel Carnival festivities last for two weeks, but preparation for those two weeks has been going for the whole year prior to them. During that year the candidates for queen and king begin forming their comparsas, designing their costumes, selecting music and the dances they will perform during Carnival.
Carnival in Cozumel is a very special festivity because it is the result of the interest and the will of the people of Cozumel. Schools, employees, neighbors all organize to make their costumes, to dress their cars and rehearse the dances they will perform. Carnival is truly a community and family event that is deep in the roots of Cozumel.
Return to Menu
EL CEDRAL & HOLY CROSS
In 1847 one of Mexico's largest internal wars began. The Mayans went to war in the Yucatán Peninsula in what is called the Castes War. A group of whites and mestizos who lived in the village of Valladolid started a migration to find a new home and run away from the war.
When they reached the town of Sabán, they received notice that the Mayans were very close and looked for shelter at the church. The shelter was useless and they where attacked with machetes, a long wide knife, by a group of Mayans commanded by Cecilio Chi. Many died in the attack. Amongst the wounded was a young man named Casimiro Cárdenas. He was covered in blood and held a small crucifix in his hand that he believed saved his life. This is now know as the Miracle of Sabán.
In the moment after he recovered consciousness, he made the sacred promise that if they ever reached a safe place and settled for the rest of their lives, every year, they would hold a solemn service to honor the holy cross. The survivors of the attack continued their journey finally arriving to Cozumel. Among them was the young Casimiro Cárdenas. A year later, a second group of people, most of them of Mayan origin, arrived to the island and founded the village of El Cedral over the Mayan ruins called Oycib. Oycib was renamed Santa Maria in 1527 by the Spaniards. Casimiro Cárdenas made the decision to move with his group and live at the new community of El Cedral.
The religious festivities begin the 23rd of April with the alborada prayers,early dawn prayers. These are followed with day and night novenas, nine consecutive days of prayers, that end the 3rd of May with the solemn Dance of the Pig Head. Theset are offered to God as a sacrifice, as he sacrificed himself before on the cross. For the Mayans that live here the music and dance turn into energy that is given to the sun and the moon, Ixchel, to provide them with the energy to continue their divine work.
Return to Menu
The voyage will be done in traditional Mayan canoes starting in Polé, today Xcaret, towards the island of Cozumel, as well as the return from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen (former Xamanhá part). 25 canoes are handmade prepared on the old traditional Mayan model, and 300 rowers from the communities of Xcaret, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen are train for their navigation.
The Sacred Mayan Journey involves approximately 50 kilometers (total return), representing 6 to 7 hours of free paddling each way in the Cozumel channel, which is 420 meters deep and a current from south to north 2 to 4 knots, this add to the crossing a level of risk and great physical effort for the rowers.
The project of the Sacred Mayan Journey was founded with the purpose of recovering one of the most significant traditions of the ancient Mayan people of the region: the ritual journey of the Cozumel channel to worship the Ix Chel.Goddess. Beginning in 2007, this recreation is to revive interest in the Mayan culture and strengthen the cultural identity of people of the area.
Return to Menu
DAY OF THE DEAD
The Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos or All Souls' Day) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration occurs on November 1st and 2nd in connection with the Catholic holiday of All Saints' Day which occurs on November 1st and All Souls' Day which occurs on November 2nd. Traditions include building private altars honoring the deceased, using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts.
The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to the indigenous Olmec, Zapotec, Mixtec, Mexican or Aztec, Maya, Purépecha, and Totonac. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors have been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2500 - 3000 years. In the pre-Hispanic era, it was common to keep skulls as trophies and display them during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.
The three states comprising Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula are a part of the Mundo Maya (Mayan World). Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatan all celebrate the Day of the Dead in a similar fashion. The celebration begins on October 31st, the day on which souls are believed to arrive to visit their family and enjoy a few days of festivities. An offering of hanal-pixan ("soul food" in Mayan language) is prepared, according to the preferences of the departed. In the early morning hours of October 31st, the souls of dead children appear. They will be received with atole (non-alcoholic drink made with water and corn flour) and corn on the cob, which is first boiled and then roasted. While the children's souls are wandering about and eating, the family say the rosary and pray for them.
The prayers and absolute quiet are a way of asking for peace for the loved one's soul and for those who continue living. When the prayers are finished, the children's souls leave the house and the family eats breakfast. Another reception is then prepared for midday: an offering consisting of chicken stew, chocolate, cookies, a dessert made with squash, as well as bread, soup, meat, vegetables, atole and fruit. On November 1st, the souls of the adults arrive, guided by the light of the votive candles which have been placed around the houses—one for each departed soul and a few extra ones, in case the family has forgotten someone. The offering for this day is much more elaborate: mukbil-pollo (large, cornmeal baked, dumpling-like dish filled with chicken and pork in a spicy chile sauce), different flavors of atole and chocolates, fruit, bread and a variety of candy.
Return to Menu