Published On: Fri, May 8th, 2015

Barbaric Ritual in Citilcum, Yucatán

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In the little town of Citilcum, near Izamal in the state of Yucatan, no one knows exactly what is the origin of a local tradition called Kots Kaal Pato, a ritual of blood and death featuring sacrifices of animals that is difficult to understand nowadays.

During the celebration, families of Citilcum (pronounced Kitilcum in Mayan language) meet in the center of town, where days before a pavillion has been set up.

Once gathered at the site, residents of Citilcum hang piñatas that are filled with animals instead of fruit or candy, as it is a costum. The animals were caught the night before by the local children.

Amongst these unfortunate animals there are iguanas, birds, kittens and possums.

Like any other celebration involving a piñata, people beat the piñata with a wooden stick until it breaks making the candy fall to the ground, unfortunately what falls in this “ritual” are live animals and if they´re not killed by the beating, townspeople will just grab the animals and throw them to the air, kick or trample them to death.

At the end of the celebration, after all the animals are dead, a goose is sacrificed in an equally barbaric way.

The bird is tied up by the legs, with its head hanging down, and the contestants have to jump in order to grab the poor animal’s head and rip it off, while the crowd applauds and laughs. That’s where the name of the ritual comes from: “Kots Kaal Pato”.


The contestant able to rip the bird’s head off, earns the right to take the body home and cook it.

This is what gives the people their identity, but no one, not even the elders can explain the origins or the reasons for the celebrations to take place.

We do not know the origin of this tradition. I learned it from my parents and my parents from their parents. Some time ago it was done in a large kapok tree nearby, but in 2002, when Hurricane “Isidoro” hit Yucatan, the tree fell down, so now it is done in the town central square “ recounts Mr. Idelfonso Tec, born and raised in Citilcum.

Freddy Poot Sosa, renown researcher of the Mayan culture, who has made several documentaries on the life and culture of indigenous communities of the Yucatan Peninsula, was equally puzzled. “I did not know there was a celebration like that, I guess it’s a very local and exclusive celebration of the town of Citilcum” he said.

Although no one knows the origin of the celebration, what is certain is that the barbaric ritual of Kots Kaal Pato still takes place every year in Citilcum.


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  1. Elizabeth says:

    OMG…I am left speechless. I have always looked at the Mayan people as gentle, kind and God and family loving. What are these people thinking? They don’t even know why they are killing innocent animals…they do it for fun??? It certainly doesn’t have any religious significance now days. It ranks up there with devil worship – it is evil plain and simple. Why is it allowed?

  2. Henriette Hummel says:

    Please do something against it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. gino says:

    Horrible people!! They are so used to it that they don’t even understand the damage they are doing!You can consider them as morally retarded. These people can not be mixed somewhere else! So many people still have this moral emptyness. They can always stop this useless cruelty. Get rid off rituals and religious banality!

  4. Suzanne Spiers says:

    I feel sick as I contemplate these images of animals being slaughtered in such a barbaric manner for no apparent reason. I wonder why someone cannot get this ‘festival’ to stop. There is no need to inflict such cruelty on defenseless animals. Pinatas are great when they are filled with sweets, but I will never be able to think about them again without being reminded of the horror that these poor creatures are enduring.

  5. Bony torres says:

    Basta de tanta crueldad! Por favor no destruyan lo que dios nos dejo.

  6. Rhoda Parent says:

    I live only 25 minutes from Citilcum and I have never heard of this. I know they don’t do this in the town I am in. Sickening for sure, and have signed the petition.

  7. Stephanie says:

    Those kids kicking the opossum… I cringed at the sight of the poor animal kicking yet laying on its side. I’m sure these animals are confused and wondering why they are getting kicked around and why are these human beings not doing anything to stop the kicking and the beating? I am confused as to why some humans can hurt defenseless animals. And not feel anything..

  8. Don Wilson says:

    It is sad that life is so meaningless for these people that they find pleasure in a public show of baseless cruelty to helpless creatures as a means of expressing themselves. Their resentment when criticised says that they know they are wrong in their cruel ways.

  9. gail says:

    the only way to stop this is to replace the animals with something else. Here’s a thought! Why not take a few of the worthless children, tie them up, beat them, torture them and then rip their little bastard heads off, only slowly! Then there would be no need for the animals to be tortured. And eventually there would be none of the worthless townspeople left. Now THAT I would pay to see!

  10. Es Pech or Tec says:

    I’m granddaughter to the old man in this picture. He is just a handful left close the Mayan people, I saw a comment saying these people are retarded. First the usage of the word retarded is very offense. I understand what you mean about the poor animals and the cruelty they endure. However, it a tradition that the Mayas have had for many many years. Do i agree with this No but is it part of a culture yes. They Mayas had their traditions for a reason. Jusy like my grandfather who is a actual decent of the Maya, speaks the language Maya not the dialectic. He and the rest of this town is the what is left of actual cultural ties we have of the Mayan culture and belief. So stop calling people names and trying to send other people to change a tradition that was here before all of you. Its a tradition that is part of their culture, its done once a year. And we all might see it as barbaric etc, but its actually a indigenous tradition. We have lost so many traditions because of people’s view on how its wrong. Might be wrong for you but for them its part of being Maya decent. Our culture and customs get lost people people try to change it, if that continues then we lose little of what is left of actual indigenous customs and cultures. These small pueblos are secluded from the many changes in our world, they try to preserve what they have left of their Maya customs.

    • Your Name...mark says:

      You make me sick you are retarded to think this is acceptable tradition or not ! I say fuck tradition and save these poor defenceless animals if I saw this I would smack and kick any of you all over the place I hope there is a god and you go to hell

    • Gina says:

      How about the Mayan tradition for human sacrifice? It appears the more enlightened eventually saw fit to call a halt to such ceremonies, but animals still wait for the same consideration. Personally, if the Maya want to celebrate blood sacrifices, I have no problem with them trying to select a willing human victim but I expect they won’t be as gung ho about volunteering as they are when attacking animals.

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