The Legend of Xtabentun- Mayan Culture in Tulum

The Legend of Xtabentun- Mayan Culture in Tulum


When I visited Tulum Mexico, it was the first time that I heard about Xtabentun legend, then I realized that  Mayan culture is not only rich because of its Mayan ruins but also for the history, traditions, folklore and legends that are part of a legacy. There is an ancient Mayan legend that concerns the most traditional drink of the Yucatan Peninsula: Xtabentun that is pronounced (ish-ta-ben-toon), which means– “twisting vine that grows on rocks” is fermented from a flower with the same name (Rivea corymbosa) that comes from a seed that causes a sense of euphoria and drowsiness, due to its psychotropic nature.

The Xtabentun Mayan legend from the Yucatan Peninsula, tells the story of two women who lived in the same town long ago. Xtabay, was a beautiful woman that used to be with every man in town; however, she was a kind soul who gave help to those in need. The other woman´s name was Utz-Colel who was considered an exemplary woman in the town. But her goodness was limited because she was cold hearted, and never helped anyone.

The Xtabentun Mayan legend tells that when Xtabay died, her tomb was covered by white flowers which gave off that same delicious sweet scent that filled the town. When Utz-Colel died, a nasty plant began to grow on her grave, it was a spiny cactus called Tzacam, revealing a nauseating smell. The white flower on Xtabay’s grave was called Xtabentun, from which nectar is prepared the famous drink made of honey and anise, native to the Yucatan Peninsula.

The Xtabentun Mayan legend says that when you drink a cup of Xtabentun, the dizzy drunkenness that follows is the effect of the love and charm that Xtabay had on the men she frequented. And if you get lost in the Mayan jungle, the mean Utz-Colel will come along to take your heart forever.