Day of the Dead

Yearly events and traditions in the Riviera Maya

There are two reasons why it is good to know the public holidays and celebrations in Mexico, before you book holiday to the Riviera Maya: You could have the chance to experience how the local celebrate a national event. A really special way of exploring culture! Also, with national events, the locals have holiday or a day off, so be prepared that for a lot of places to be very busy during these days.

So what are the most important national events in Mexico? Find out here.

January 6th – Día de los Reyes (Three Kings’ Day)

This event is celebrated all over Mexico. Just like in the US children receive presents on Christmas, this holiday has a tradition as well. Friends and families come together on this day to share a special made cake for this day. In this cake is one very little doll, which represents the Christ Child. If you are the one who has this little doll in its piece of cake, then you are the one to host a ‘tamales-and-atole’ celebration on February second.

February/March – Carnaval

Parades, music, dancing… it’s Carnaval! Consider yourself being lucky when you’re in Mexico during this period. Especially when you’re in Mérida, Campeche or Isla Cozumel, because here Carnaval will be celebrated… and not just for one day! Also in the Riviera Maya Carnaval will be celebrated, so for sure you will have fun joining a real Caribbean Carnaval!

Beginning of April – Semana Santa (Holy Week)

This week of celebrations is very good to know before you book your holiday. Or maybe you already noticed it when checking the availability of accommodation in Mexico. All the locals have a one week holiday during ‘Semana Santa’. Mexicans go on holiday themselves, they go out a lot as Mexico celebrates the last week in the life of Christ. You have the opportunity to find out what religion means to the local people!

September 15 and 16 – Independence day

Nationwide Mexico’s independence from Spain is celebrated with parades and red, green and white colors. On September 15th the President gives a speech from the National Palace in Mexico City. The main plaza is full of people and everybody who can is watching the speech on TV. On September 15th and September 16th a lot of local celebrations are going on. A real opportunity to join these celebrations when you are in Mexico during these days.

1 and 2 November – Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

For foreigners, this might sounds like a very strange celebration, but this celebration is definitely the most interesting one to attend in Mexico! This is a celebrations which also the Aztecs and Mayas celebrated, so the celebration has a lot of cultural history, but of course the event has changed along the years.

The meaning of the tradition is very special. On November first all the souls of children come back to earth and the adults on November second. During the year people collect items offer to the souls at on these days. People go to graveyards to decorate them and to place food offerings there. After offering they eat the food.

The Mayan and Aztecs used to keep skulls and show them during offers, because for them this was a sign for rebirth. That is why nowadays you see a lot of skulls in Mexico… on t-shirts, pottery and even masks!

Ceremony in Xcaret

Ceremony in Xcaret

December 24 and 25 – Christmas

Everywhere in Mexico Christmas will be celebrated! Most celebrations take place on the 23rd or the 24th of December. Parades, celebrations of the birth of Christ, decorations and Christmas trees… you will notice that it’s Christmas in Mexico.

A lot of Mexicans extend this holiday and go on vacation for a couple of weeks and return after New Year’s. It’s really recommended to book your holiday early during December, because not only do Mexicans go on holiday in their own country, but people from all over the world come to Mexico.