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Stuff Mexicans Like #6: La Fiesta

19 May
There are few activities Mexicans enjoy more than la fiesta. La fiesta incorporates the most important aspects of a Mexicans’s existence: la convivencia; la familia; la amistad; la risa; la comida; la música; el baile; la pasión; los modales; la celebración; la tradición; la fe; el gozo; and la formalidad. (getting together; family; friendship; laughter; food; music; dance; passion; manners; celebration; tradition; faith; joy; and getting dressed up!) A party is all the best things in life wrapped in a brief 6 hour package. Why not celebrate more? 
 
Therapy
On the flip side, la fiesta is also a way of releasing suppressed emotions of la tristeza, la ira, la frustración, la impotencia, and la desesperación. (sadness, rage, frustration, powerlessness, and desperation). These emotions are generated when la corrupción wins in one’s life, when one works hard day in and day out, but still cannot get ahead, and when one is menos preciado in society for his or her lower socio-economic status (under valued). There is an almost drunken mania (and ofen accompanying violence) that occurs in the public during certain Mexican holidays/parades/bull fights that seems to reflect a long overdue release of powerful sentiment and/or resentment for the inability to produce change and/or have power or control over one’s own life circumstances.
 
Financial Effect
Some poor pueblos save all year long for fireworks, cohetes (rockets), street decorations, and food and beverage to accommodate the masses for their colonia’s or city’s Santo. (In my case, San Miguel Arcángel: 29 septiembre.)  But what about the more important needs of the village? you say. Paved streets? Running water? for example. Do not underestimate the power of the therapeutic role of la fiesta to a people who often feel so downtrodden that they wonder how to go on. Just one or two well-done fiestas can produce the morale needed to make it til the next one (or a change of government… or a change of heart… or an end to corruption…or…)
 
It’s a good thing there is never a shortage of reasons to celebrate:
Date English name Spanish name Remarks
January 1 New Year’s Day Año Nuevo First day of the year.
February 5 Constitution Day Día de la Constitución Celebrates the Promulgation of the 1857 and 1917 Constitutions (See also Patriotic holidays in Mexico).
Observance: First Monday of February.
March 21 Benito Juárez‘s birthday Natalicio de Benito Juárez Commemorates President Benito Juárez’s birthday on March 21, 1806 (See also Patriotic holidays in Mexico).
Observance: Third Monday of March
May 1 Labor Day Día del Trabajo Commemorates the Mexican workers’ union movements (See also Patriotic holidays in Mexico).
September 16 Independence Day Día de la Independencia Commemorates the start of the Independence War by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in 1810 (See also Patriotic holidays in Mexico).
November 20 Revolution Day Día de la Revolución Commemorates the start of the Mexican Revolution by Francisco I. Madero in 1910 (See also Patriotic holidays in Mexico).
Observance: Third Monday of November.
December 1 Change of Federal Government Transmisión del Poder Ejecutivo Federal Every six years, when a new President is sworn in office.
Next observance: December 1, 2012.
December 25 Christmas Navidad Christmas celebration; secular and religious holiday.

In addition to these dates, election days designated by federal and local electoral laws are also statutory holidays.


 This is me at my first Christmas Posada in Queretaro: Posadas are celebrated the ten days, hence ten fiestas, before Christ’s birth, when Jose & Maria looked for lodging, but found none. The pinata originates from posadas, not children’s birthday parties. A true posada pinata is star shaped, made out of clay, and should have 7 points, representing the seven deadly sins.

   January
  • January 1: A�o Nuevo(New Year’s Day), is an official Mexican holiday.
  • January 6: D�a de Los Santos Reyesis the day when Mexicans exchange Christmas presents in accordance with the arrival of the three gift-bearing wisemen to Jesus Christ. This day culminates the Christmastime festivities.
  • January 17: Feast Day of de San Antonio de Abad is a religious holiday during which the Catholic Church allows animals to enter the church for blessing.
    February
  • February 2: D�a de la Candelaria or Candlemas, is a religious holiday that is celebrated with processions, dancing, bullfights in certain cities, and the blessing of the seeds and candles. The festivities are best seen in: San Juan de los Lagos, Jalapa; Talpa de Allende, Jalisco; and Santa Maria del Tuxla, Oaxaca.
  • February 5: D�a de la Constituci�n, an official holiday that commemorates Mexico’s Constitution. Observed Monday, February 7, 2011.
  • February 24: Flag Day, This Mexican national holiday honors the Mexican flag. Observed February 24, 2010.
    March
  • March 3 – March 8 (2011): Carnaval is an official Mexican holiday that kicks off a five-day celebration of the libido before the Catholic lent. Beginning the weekend before Lent, Carnaval is celebrated exhubrantly with parades, floats and dancing in the streets. Port towns such as Ensenada, La Paz, Mazatlán and Veracruz are excellent places to watch Carnaval festivities.
  • March 18: La Expropiaci�n Petrolera, Oil Expropriation of March 18, 1938. Civic holiday.
  • March 19: St. Joseph’s Day, D�a de San Jos�, a religious holiday best seen in Tamulin, San Luis Potosi.
  • March 21: The Birthday of Benito Juárez, a famous Mexican president and national hero, this is an official Mexican holiday. Celebrated Monday, March 21, 2011.
    April
  • Semana Santa: Semana Santa is the holy week that ends the 40-day Lent period. This week includes Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is Mexican custom to break confetti-filled eggs over the heads of friends and family.
    May
  • May 1: Primero de Mayo is the Mexican national holiday that is equivalent to the U.S. Labor Day.
  • May 3: Holy Cross Day D�a de la Santa Cruz, when construction workers decorate and mount crosses on unfinished buildings, followed by fireworks and picnics at the construction site.
  • May 5: Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican national holiday that honors the Mexican victory over the French army at Puebla de los Angeles in 1862.
  • May 10: Mother’s Day, Due to the importance of the mother in Mexican culture, Mother’s Day is an especially significant holiday.
    June
  • June 1: Navy Day is an official Mexican holiday.
  • June 13: Día de los Locos Día de San Antonio de Padua (the closest Sunday to the date)
  • June 24: Saint John the Baptist Day is celebrated with religious festivities, fairs, and popular jokes connected to getting dunked in water.
  • June 29: Fiesta of Saint Peter and Saint Paul notable celebrations in Mexcaltit�n, Nayarit and Zaachila, Oaxaca.

 

    September
  • September 1: Annual State of the Union, Though this date is an approximation, the President delivers the address in the autumn.
  • September 13: Los Niños Héroes, Heros of the Mexican-American War 1847. The President of Mexico commemorates their sacrifice at a wreath-laying ceremony at the monument to Los Niños Héroes in Chapultepec Park.
  • September 16: Mexican Independence Day celebrates the day that Miguel Hidalgo delivered El Grito de Dolores, and announced the Mexican revolt against Spanish rule.
  • September 29: San Miguel Arcangel Patron Saint of San Miguel de Allende
    October
  • October 12: Día de la Raza, This day celebrates Columbus’ arrival to the Americas, and the historical origins of the Mexican race.
    November
  • November 1&2: D�a de los Muertos is an important Mexican holiday that merges Pre-Columbian beliefs and modern Catholocism. Europe’s All Saints’ Day and the Aztec worship of the dead contribute to these two days that honor Mexico’s dead.
  • November 20: Mexican Revolution Day,This official Mexican holiday commemorates the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Celebrated Monday, November 21, 2011.
    December
  • December 12: D�a de Nuestra Se�ora de Guadalupe, or the day of the Virgin of Guadalupe is celebrated with a feast honoring Mexico’s patron saint.
  • December 16: Las Posadas celebrates Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter in Bethlehem with candlelight processions that end at various nativity scenes. Las Posadas continues through January 6.
  • December 25: Navidad, Mexico celebrates the Christmas holiday.
Date English Name Spanish Name Remarks
January 6 Epiphany Día de los Santos Reyes Celebrates the Biblical New Testament story of the arrival of the three wise men who each brought a gift to the Christ child. Traditionally, children receive toys, and people buy a pastry called rosca de reyes. Anyone who bites into the bread and finds a figurine of the Christ child must host a party for the Day of Candlemas (February 2). It is not a state holiday.
February 14 Valentine’s Day Día de San Valentín Celebrates amorous unions. On this day, traditionally, men give chocolates, flowers, jewelry, dinner and serenade to their special women, as well as to their female friends. It is not a state holiday.
April 30 Children’s Day Día del Niño Honors all the children. It is not a state holiday.
May 10 Mother’s Day Día de las Madres Honors all the mothers throughout the country. It is not a state holiday.
May 15 Teacher’s Day Día del Maestro Honors all the teachers throughout the country. It is not a state holiday.
May 23 Students’ Day Día del estudiante Honors all the students throughout the country. It is not a state holiday.
Third Sunday of June Father’s Day Día del Padre Honors all the fathers throughout the country. It is not a state holiday.
November 1 All Saints’ Day (Day of the Dead) Día de Todos los Santos Honors dead relatives and/or friends (who were less than 18 years of age and unmarried) with candles, food and flower offerings, altars, and pre-Hispanic and Christian rituals. It is not a state holiday.
November 2 All Souls’ Day (Day of the Dead) Día de los Fieles Difuntos Honors dead relatives and/or friends (who were more than 18 years of age or married) with candles, food and flower offerings, altars, and pre-Hispanic and Christian rituals. It is not a state holiday.
December 12 Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe Día de la Virgen de Guadalude Celebrates the day that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared on Tepeyac hill to the native Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. It is not a state holiday.
December 16–24 Las Posadas Las Posadas Commemorates the Biblical New Testament story of Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter in Bethlehem. Consists of candlelight processions as well as stops at various nativity scenes.
December 24 Christmas Eve Nochebuena Celebrates the eve of the nativity of Jesus, as both a secular and religious winter holiday. The traditional treats for this holiday are buñuelos, tamales and atole or champurrado. Sometimes they eat gelatina de colores (different flavors of Jell-O and a milk based Jell-O mixed together to make a colorful treat) Las Posadas are celebrated nine days before Nochebuena, usually accompanied by a piñata party for children and dance music for adults.
December 28 Day of the Innocents Dia de los Santos Innocentes On this day, people pull practical jokes on each other. It is equivalent to the U.S. version of April Fools’ Day (April 1). People must not believe anything that other people say nor let them borrow any amount of money. If any person has fallen victim of the joke, the person pulling the joke will say ¡Inocente palomita…!, literally meaning ‘Innocent little dove’ (equivalent to saying April Fools!).
December 31 New Year’s Eve Año Nuevo Vìspera Mexicans celebrate New Year’s Eve or locally known as Año Nuevo, by downing a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. Mexican families decorate homes and parties, during New Year’s, with colors such as red, to encourage an overall improvement of lifestyle and love, yellow to encourage blessings of improved employment conditions, green to improve financial circumstances and white to improved health. Mexican sweet bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden in the dough. When the bread is served, the recipient whose slice contains the coin or charm is believed to be blessed with good luck in the new year. Another tradition is making a list of all the bad or unhappy events from the current year; before midnight, this list is thrown into a fire, symbolizing the removal of negative energy from the new year.[1] At the same time, thanks is expressed for all the good things had during the year that is coming to its end so that they will continue to be had in the new year.[2] Mexicans celebrate by having a late-night dinner with their families, the traditional meal being turkey and mole, a tradition which has now spanned worldwide. Those who want to party generally go out afterwards, to local parties or night clubs. If you’re in Mexico, you can still enjoy festivities in the street. In Mexico City there is a huge street festival on New Year’s Eve; celebrations center around the Zocalo, the city’s main square.[3] You can expect a lot of firecrackers, fireworks and sparklers. At midnight there is a lot of noise and everyone shouts: “Feliz año nuevo!” People embrace, make noise, set off firecrackers, and sing Will Take a Cup o’ Kidness Yet Auld Lang Syne.
 

Stuff Mexicans Like #2: La Virgen de Guadalupe

17 May
All Mexican culture revolves around its core, its center, its lifesource, its sun: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Actually she is such a staple presence in daily Mexican life that sometimes her effects go unnoticed by Mexicans. (But not by me.) 🙂
Present-Day Effects
Have you ever gone to a department store in Mexico wanting to purchase a new brasierre only to learn that trying on any kind of under garment is strictly forbidden in most states in the republic? Have you looked for tampons in a local pharmacy (outside of foreigner-laden San Miguel de Allende or la playa)? They are rarely to be found. Want to buy a transparent shower curtain? Think again, pervert! These kinds of behaviors and dry goods simply do not jive well with virginity.
How Can I Know La Virgen?
Who is the first person one should approach with a problem, worry, or confession? La Virgencita, that’s who! Light her a candle and take off a load! She can be trusted with everything from small decisions to heavy burdens. Most altares for La Virgen de Guadalupe are placed prominently in one’s entryway or in the sala for easy access. No one knows tristeza and angustia like the Mother of G-d, who bore the Jewish Messiah as a confused 15 year old virgin, only to watch her promised child die in his early 30s a shameful and agonizing death. La Virgencita does not judge or shame, she is all-accepting and all-forgiving.
Image
Tonantzin, Revered Aztec Goddess Mother
Not only is La Virgen the Mother of the new, Mestizo Mexico, but she existed long before as the central Goddess in Aztec society as Tonantzin(Toe-nant-SEEN, or Our Revered Mother/Mother Earth). Lupita, our Lady of Guadalupe, first appeared on December 9, 1531 (not December 12, as she is presently celebrated), the first day of the Goddess Tonantzin’s holy festival. Not only did Lupita speak with Juan Diego on the first day of Tonantzin’s celebration, but she also happend to make her appearance RIGHT ON Tonantzin’s worship shrine at the Cerro de Tepeyac (hill of Tepeyac) in the Aztec center of action, presently Mexico City (El DF: El Distrito Federal)!
Coincidencia? I think not. Whatever her true identity, she remains the central figure of Love and adoration by indigenous Mexicans, Mestizos, and Mexican-born Spaniards alike. She united the indigenous of Mexico with the Europeans, the conquistados or chingados with the conquistadores or los que chingan. She was and remains the Great Mediator of Mexico.
Feminist Brown Mother
Maintaining such high status as La Madre de la Tierra and La Reina de México, La Virgencita helps the poor and downtrodden, the brown-skinned, the lowly, the conquered. Guadalupe (aka: La Morena/brown-skinned) has elevated the female (and the dark-skinned female) back to the highest position of importance in Mexico at a time when the conquistadores had recently arrived with their machista sexist ways. It is no wonder that matriarchs are so common in Mexican society and that La Virgen is prominently mentioned in the most famous Mexican anthem: Cielito Lindo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVQGxFDINng
“Yo a las morenas quiero
desde que supe que…
morena es la Virgen
de Guadalupe…”