Culture and Traditions in Yucatán
The people from Yucatan integrate their beliefs, celebrations and ancient customs into their daily lives, and create a very special kind of magical syncretism. Archeology. Yucatan is the cradle of the Mayan culture and its historical legacy is unique in the world. 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.
Music. 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.
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.
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.
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.