TRADITIONS OF YUCATAN

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Culture and Traditions in YUCATAN

The people from Yucatan integrate their beliefs, celebrations and ancient customs into their daily lives, and create a very special kind of magical syncretism. The handcrafts, the cuisine, the music, the folklore, and the traditions are irrefutable proof that Yucatan is a magic land with open, warm atmosphere, where visitors always feel welcome.

Archeology

Yucatan is the cradle of the Mayan culture and its historical legacy is unique in the world.

Mérida, Yucatan
Mérida, Yucatan
Historic Architecture

The “White City” and its surroundings display ancient buildings and haciendas from the 16th to the 20th Century.

Handcrafts

Yucatán is famous for the hammocks, “guayaberas”, the “panama” hat, the filigree jewelry in gold and silver and the Huipil with beautiful cross-stitch embroidery of flowers, all of them available in the Lucas Galvez Market and the surroundings of the main plaza in Merida.

Festivals & Traditions

The Hanal Pixán in the Mayan language means “food of souls.” As the sun raises every 31st of October so does the beginning of the celebration of this festivity and lasts until the 2nd of November of every year.

Tradition says the souls of the loved ones are still present, and the deceased faithfully arrive each year to visit and be honored by their family and friends. The celebration includes an altar with food, flowers wooden cross, among other things.

Gastronomy

The rich, distinct, and varied cuisine of Yucatan is one of the many reasons to visit this destination. The cooking delights of the traditional Yucatan cuisine are a mixture of ingredients used by ancient Mayas, and flavors brought from Spain, Caribbean and Middle East.

Among the most popular dishes are: cochinita pibil, pork marinated in orange juice and served with beans and red onion; salbutes, made from corn dough and stuffed with turkey, onion and avocado; panuchos, corn dough stuffed with beans; and papadzules, corn dough soaked in a green pumpkin seed sauce called kol and stuffed with hard-boiled eggs and later bathed in a tomato, onion and garlic sauce.

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Traditions in YUCATAN​

La Vaquería

In the traditional festivities carried out by the cattlemen, it is unknown from when, in remembrances of the classic Spanish festivals, our dairy farms took place. In the vaquerías the jaranas were danced, one of the first variants was “El Torito”.

Vaquería
Vaquería

It is the Yucatecan dairy in itself, boisterous and exciting. They dazzle the flashing sparkles of their cross-stitch embroidered dresses and the colored ribbon that adjusts the black braids and heels on the head.

They with the squeaky and persistent patter of the espadrilles of the dark-haired guachapeadores. After a while of dancing, someone yells “bomb.” The orchestra stops, the dance is interrupted so that some of the performers can express the sharp sayings of the “bombs”, where the sense of humor that characterizes the Yucatecan is revealed.

Jarana

The jarana is the typical dance of Yucatán. There are two types: the 6 × 8 jarana is zapateada, it is the granddaughter of the Andalusian airs and the daughter of the mestizo sones; and the 3 × 4 jarana, which emerged later, being a waltz with the air of an Aragonese jota, from which it derives. The latter in its beginnings was exclusively danced, and with the passage of time texts made with rhymes were added.

The jarana is a zapateado dance without fixed steps or differentiation between men and women, and each person can make their own dance creations. The postures are upright due to the solemnity of the aboriginal dances, but in the waltzed parts they perform turns while raising their arms at right angles, like the jota dancers, snapping their fingers representing the Spanish castanets. Two beats of the timpani indicate that the dance has begun.

If at the end of each jarana there are few couples competing for the first place of resistance, the euphoria of the people runs wild in an animation towards their favorite dancers through the finery, which consists of putting several hats on their heads, one over the other, symbolizing the crown as a prize.

It is common for one of the dancers to stop the music while dancing, saying aloud: “bomb!” At that moment he recites a verse to his partner in a humorous way, always within the limits of decency. Originally from Spain, it represents a spark of ingenuity that causes an outbreak of joy and conviviality. Every Monday a Regional Vaquería show is presented at 9pm on the ground floor of the Municipal Palace. Calle 62 x 63 y 61, Centro.

Hanal Pixan
Hanal Pixan
The Hanal Pixán

In Yucatan, among the Mayan Indians, there is a custom that comes from their ancestors: a distinctly Mayan custom mixed, after the conquest, with pious practices according to Catholic ritual. Work is until, of the Franciscans; who, not being able to uproot at once, in the conquered race, their ancient idolatrous rites, tolerated certain practices that were not opposed to dogma: such as honoring their dead, offering presents, lighting candles and burning aromatic resins.

Thus, to date, there is a pious practice among the Mayan Indians that originates from the sacred veneration that the Indian has for their dead relatives, whom they bury inside their homes. Due to this indigenous practice of burying the dead at home to keep them close, in order to be able to offer them presents that consisted of food, fruits and wax, the custom of making the “pibil-uahes” or “mucbipollos” was born on the days of the dead: food in the form of tamales wrapped in banana leaves with which they give gifts, in those mournful days, to the souls of their dead relatives, hence the “Hanal-Pixan”, which means: “banquet of the souls”.

In the houses and in the fields, the Indians put gourds of new atole and bowls of food dedicated to the deceased; and they firmly believe that, invisible, souls descend to take a part of it, which is what they call “taking grace.”

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Culture in YUCATAN

Language

Mayan is the characteristic language of the region, however and like clothing, it has been lost, especially in the city of Mérida where it is only common to hear this language spoken among people who travel to the city for work or work reasons. of business. Like other traditions and / or customs, the Mayan language is kept alive in the populations of the State since it is transmitted from generation to generation.

Dance

In the Yucatan peninsula it is common to enjoy the main typical dance of the region, the jarana. In the Capital, these dances are performed in the colonies as part of celebrations and festivities for patron saints where the main dancers gather to enjoy these festivities. In the towns, the jarana is the traditional dance par excellence. This event is enjoyed on holidays, patron saint festivities, special events or on Sundays.

Typical Clothing
Typical Clothing
Clothing

The costume of the region is the traditional suit or guayabera, however in the city it is not so common to meet people wearing this clothing. This way of dressing goes back more to the surrounding populations which have less external influences, especially from the media.

Food

Yucatecan food is characterized by its outstanding seasoning as well as by the great variety of dishes that make it unique and special. The main touch of Yucatecan food are its ingredients, which preserve that strong and unmistakable flavor, among them are: achiote, red, black and white messages, purple onion, pepita, oregano, epazote, habanero pepper, etc.

In Mérida, as in towns and police stations, there is a great variety of restaurants of all categories specialized in Yucatecan food; It is equally traditional to find stalls that offer food alternatives from the region. An important complement to Yucatecan food are the desserts which are made mostly with typical fruits; We cannot omit the traditional drinks and snacks that should not be missed to make your trip to Merida an unforgettable experience.

Parties and celebrations

Mexico is characterized by being a country rich in traditions and Yucatán is not far behind. Both in the city and in nearby towns, a large number of festivals and celebrations can be enjoyed throughout the year, commemorating everything from patron saints to city or town anniversaries.

These festivities mostly last a week in which the town dresses up, adorning the town’s church, the police station or those places that will host the various organized activities with colored flags and ornaments alluding to the occasion. As traditional festivities, you cannot miss the dairy farms, bullfights, guilds, dances with musical groups, and fairs where a number of typical products of the region are exhibited.

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Music in YUCATAN

Any plaza or garden is a good place to listen modern day troubadours, or the rhythmic sound of jarana. Yucatan is famous for the music they play, called the trova. The trova is played by troubadours, and has brought worldwide attention because of the music. You can enjoy this music and the traditional Jarana dancers in any small plaza or in a beautiful park.

Trova Yucateca
Trova Yucateca
The Yucatecan song

The Yucatecan song flourished at the end of the last century with a decisive European influence and was acquiring Cuban influence with the guaracha, the bolero, dance and the harpsichord, finally receiving Colombian influence with the bambuco. Thus the Yucatecan song is the happy result of a confluence of traits from different cultures, passed through the sieve of our mestizo personality.

Some of the most important Yucatecan musicians and composers are: Cirilo Baqueiro (Chan Cil), Fermín Pastrana (Huay Cuc), Antonio Hoil; In another generation we have: Ricardo Palmerín, Guty Cárdenas and Pepe Domínguez. In current times, our most prominent composers are Pastor Cervera and Sergio Esquivel.

The Yucatan Trova is considered a national treasure, combines lyrical poetry with Cuban rhythms, bolero and Colombian bambuco.
Merida offers musical performances almost every day:

On Monday evenings at 21:00 hrs, the Vaquería takes over the street in front of the Palacio Municipal. This colorful dance has its origins in the Yucatán’s colonial days. In their most beautiful white dresses, embroidered with flowers, the wives of the local cowboys (or vaqueros) were in charge of the festivities and led the dance.

On Tuesday, head to the Plaza de Santiago for the “Remembranzas Musicales” at 20:30 hrs. In one of Mérida’s most beautiful plazas, bands play the greatest hits of the Big Bands, and hundreds of locals dance the night away.

On Thursday, head over to the Plaza de Santa Lucia for the weekly traditional “Serenata Yucateca” at 21:00 hrs. This is the best known of Mérida’s free concerts, and for over forty years, has invited some of the peninsula’s most famous composers and musicians to the stage.

Mérida Palace of Music
Mérida Palace of Music

On Friday, “Mérida Cultural cerca de ti” (Cultural Merida close to you), in many parks of the city at 21:00 hrs various musical shows are presented.

On Saturday, from 21:00 to 02:00 at the foot of Paseo Montejo, near the Plaza of Santa Ana, a stage is erected for the “Noche Mexicana”. You can enjoy a musical tribute to the sounds, styles and dances of Mexico.

There’s a constantly changing line-up, as singers, bands and dance Troupes from across the country are invited to participate.

On Sunday, “Merida en Domingo”, in the Plaza Grande and 60th Street to the Santa Lucia Park from 9:00 to 21:00 hrs, you can enjoy the Yucatecan cuisine, crafts, folklore, traditional and contemporary musical performances and dances.

Beside you can enjoy the Sunday Bicycle Route from 8:00 to 12:30 hrs. The route runs from La Ermita de Santa Isabel to the Main Plaza, then north along Paseo de Montejo, this is a nice way to wonder around this city.

Additionally, the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra plays two regular seasons at the Jose Peon Contreras Theater, and features classical music, jazz and opera every Friday at 21:00 and Sundays at 12:00.

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Festivities in YUCATAN

The main festivals and traditions in Yucatán.

Gandera Fair and Festival of the Three Kings

Regional livestock exhibition. Trade and tourist fair. Religious festivities, horse races, palenque and cattle auction. From December 30 to January 6 in Tizimín.

Feast of Santa Inés

Religious festivities, dairy, bullfighting, indigenous dances of the Kotzal Tzo, the Hok-Chilib and the Head of the Pig. From January 12 to 22 in Dzitas.

Carnival
Carnival
Carnival

Movable date. In Mérida there are parades of floats, masks and costumes. Popular dances and vaquería, as well as various recreational events.

Fiesta de la Candelaria

Vaquería and popular dance, religious celebrations, guilds, procession, bullfight, rides, bazaars. From January 26 to February 3 in Valladolid.

Feast of San Antonio de Padua

Vaquerías, bullfight, popular dance, indigenous dance of Kotskal Tzo and religious festivities. June 12 in Tinum.

Celebration in honor of San Pedro Apóstol

Native dances of the Head of Cochinoy de Los Ramilletes. From June 26 to 30 in Panabá.

Feast of Santiago Apóstol

Religious celebrations, masses, processions and a peculiar novena. Popular dances, guilds and mayordomías. From July 18 to 25 in Halacho.

Feast of the Holy Christ of the Transfiguration and Fair of the Santiago Neighborhood

The only one that is preserved from the old festivals of the city’s neighborhoods. Religious holidays, masses, guilds and acts of veneration. Popular fair, bazaars, mechanical games, popular dance and cultural events. From July 28 to August 6 in Mérida.

Feast of San Telmo, Patron Saint of Fishermen

Religious celebrations, processions and masses. Popular fair: mechanical and recreational games, bazaars, snacks. Popular music and dances. From August 7 to 13 in Progreso.

Traditions in Yucatan
Traditions in Yucatan
Feast of Our Lady of Izamal

Religious celebrations: unions, pilgrimages, processions and masses. Popular fair, dances, vaquería, fireworks. On August 15 in Izamal.

Fiesta del Santo Cristo de las Ampollas

Traditional religious celebration. Guilds, masses, acts of veneration, popular dances, fireworks. From September 16 to 30 in Mérida.

San Juan Neighborhood Fair

Religious celebrations, masses, novenaries and popular dances. From October 7 to 15 in Ticul.

Celebration of the “Hanal Pixan” or of the Holy Dead

Traditional Festival of the Whole Community: millennial festival in honor of the deceased, religious acts, visits to the pantheon. Day of the Dead food. Ancestral profane acts and cultural events. From October 30 to November 2 in various municipalities.

Tribute to the Virgin of Guadalupe in the San Cristóbal Neighborhood

Religious acts of veneration, offerings, pilgrimages, unions, processions and masses. Sporting events, popular fair and rides. From December 11 to 13 in Mérida.

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Haciendas

Since the 16th century, Haciendas in Yucatán worked as a European feudal system. They were efficient farms and manufacturing centers producing meat and diverse agricultural products for export. By 19th century, most haciendas produced sisal ropes. Sisal, is a variety of the agave plant, used for everything from rigging on ships to placemats and carpets that we use today.

Haciendas
Haciendas

Haciendas are Mexico’s equivalent to American southern plantations, mid-western ranches, and European land estates. Haciendas became symbols of wealth and culture, adorned in a very specific way with architecture, furnishings and art from around the world. Haciendas maintained huge fields of henequen, tended by hundreds of men.

The main house (casa principal) was usually the largest building, where the owner (hacendado) kept his living quarters and where most of the administration occurred. Henequen processing took place in the machine house (casa de maquinas). There was usually a chapel (capilla), a house for the foreman (casa del mayordomo), and many other smaller buildings for storage and living quarters.

After the Mexican Revolution and the subsequent invention of synthetic fibers, most haciendas were abandoned to decay in the jungle. In recent times, they have been “rediscovered” and some haciendas have been renovated into luxury hotels, into restaurants and, in some cases, into museums. Among the most important, we find; Katanche, Kancabchén, Ochil, Petac, San José Cholul, Santa Rosa, Temozon, Teya and Yaxcopoil that was considered to be one of the most important rustic estates because of its size as well as its magnificence and today, it is a museum.

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More Tourist Attractions in YUCATAN

Merida
Capital City

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Guided Tours in YUCATAN

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Flights & Hotels in YUCATAN

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