GratiTuesday: Sharing the Joy

One of the many things my husband and I love about Mexico are the public celebrations. Religious celebrations, wedding celebrations, birthday celebrations, and who-the-heck-knows-why celebrations are often at least partially held where onlookers are welcome to share in the festivities.

Every weekend during our stay in San Miguel de Allende, a wedding (or three, or four) was held in the stunning Parroquia church. Once the wedding mass was over, the bridal party and guests would spill out into the courtyard and onto the street in front of the church. A fancy car or horse and carriage would often be waiting to take the newlyweds to their reception, but not before the invited guests – and anyone in the area at the time – were swept up in the joyful celebration.

The bride and groom waving goodbye before leaving for their reception.

On our way to dinner one evening, we stopped to watch an expat’s 70th birthday celebration. Along with her and her partner’s guests, lucky onlookers enjoyed the revelry, which included a mariachi band, dancing in the street, and the antics of the giant mojigangas (pronounced mo-he-gan-gas) that were decorated to look a bit like the couple.

Betty, celebrating her 70th birthday.
Dancing in the street with the giant mojigangas to the music of the mariachi band.

One event that is unique to San Miguel is Dia de Los Locos (day of the crazies), which is an annual celebration that takes place in June. Los Locos has deep religious roots but much of the festivities appear to be completely secular. Although the day begins with a mass at the San Antonio church (which was just a few blocks from our housesit), once the participants head out to the streets where the crowds are waiting, all vestiges of religion fall away.

As the flamboyant procession moves along the main avenue, onlookers are treated to wild (and often delightfully politically incorrect) costumes, loud music, dancing, and hard candy projectiles being tossed their way. Over 10,000 participants join in the parade costumed as cartoon characters, politicians, clowns (both friendly and scary), and fantasy figures, while an even larger crowd watches from the sidewalks that line the route.

Celebrations and festivals are an integral part of Mexican life. In San Miguel, barely a day goes by that does not commemorate a patron saint, a beloved chapel, or a revolutionary hero. And then, of course, are the personal celebrations like weddings, anniversaries, or birthdays. We were very grateful to not only be there when many of these celebrations occurred, but also grateful to be able to join in and share the joy.

Author: RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

60 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: Sharing the Joy”

  1. I love celebrations! Dia de Los Locos sounds (and looks) amazing. With much flamboyance, politically incorrect costumes. music, dancing and free candy, how could it go wrong? I am glad that you were able participate in some of these celebrations, Janis. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  2. This is a pleasant side of Mexico one does not read about as often as one should be able to. Thank you for showing us how the Mexican people celebrate their many social events, Janis!

  3. This is really cool. Believe it or not, my husband and I went to Mexico on our honeymoon (a million years ago) and had the worst time. A number of things didn’t go right on our end–it wasn’t Mexico’s fault. Your post makes me think we should give Mexico a second chance.

        1. You would still want to drink filtered water and treat your fruits and veggies before eating them. But, these precautions were easy to follow and became second-nature after a while. When you visit places like San Miguel that have a large tourist population you can feel comfortable drinking water and eating the food served in restaurants.

  4. Great to see someone dispelling some of the dark myths about Mexico. I prefer the rural side of the country but your photos and narrative show urban Mexico in a bright light.

    1. Hi Fred, thank you for your comment. I love the rural countryside too, but our last two trips (Oaxaca and San Miguel) have been full of art, architecture, history… and wonderful people. I think a several-week stay in somewhere a little quieter would be a great way to recharge our batteries.

  5. There is just something about Latin culture that screams “celebrations!” My hubby was born in Colombia and lived in Chile until age 6, and he remembers a lot of celebrations, food, fun, music, everything. He brings a little of that flair with him wherever he goes, so it always seems like a party! How cool you got to experience so many of those celebrations, Janis, (how did you keep from gaining weight?)!

    1. How nice that your husband had that experience when he was young and that he has managed to keep the best of that culture inside him. About the weight… I’m pretty sure I didn’t gain weight because I walked so much every day. Now that I’m home and it’s been so hot, it’s another story 🙂

  6. We were in San Miguel in mid-April this year. There was a huge noisy celebration on our second day which lasted late into the night. -All sorts of costumes and fireworks. We kept asking what the celebration was, and never really got a good answer. Made for a great day though. Ended the evening sitting at a sidewalk cafe at the jardin having a drink and watching the festivities.

    1. I wonder what that was? I looked in my Moon guide book under festivals but all it showed for April were Easter-related events and Easter was really early this year so it couldn’t be that. Maybe it was one of those who-the-heck-knows holidays 🙂 . It’s such a great and joyous surprise when that happens, though, and I’m glad you were there to enjoy the festivities. Thank you for your comment!

  7. I want us to start celebrating Dia de Los Locos! What an inspired idea. When I was a teenager I remember being on vacation in Spain with my mother and we were invited to a public wedding in a huge RC church. Just like that, we were sitting in the pews, on the bride’s side. It was so informal and friendly– which sounds like the same thing in Mexico. Maybe it’s the Spanish language.

    1. Although we don’t go into the church during a wedding, once they are outside they don’t seem to mind sharing their day. Dia de los Locos is a crazy celebration… there were even a few “practice” parades several days leading up to the big event. Whether it’s the language or the climate, these people know how to celebrate.

  8. HI Janis
    It’s wonderful you were about to spend an extended amount of time in San Miguel de Allende. It makes visiting more intimate when you get to know the community. Mexican culture has a fascinating history.
    Thanks
    Laura

    1. I love to be able to stay in an area for a long enough time not to feel rushed. Mexican history is fascinating and, as Americans living in the U.S., we really don’t get the whole story. I have just downloaded a book called Abraham Lincoln and Mexico which was recommended to me as a great historical read.

  9. It is so gratifying to see the joy of the fun-loving Mexican people. As you so beautifully captured, in Mexico, there always seems to be a public celebration in progress. Of course, wherever you find a party, you will see children playing with balloons, long lines at the elote corn street food carts, and if you are lucky, a couple of mojigangas bobbing through the crowd.

    1. Although I know it’s not good to generalize… we fell in love with the joyful nature of Mexicans. I remember reading somewhere that, in the U.S., wealth and status were our two most important goals. In Mexico, family and the pursuit of happiness were much more important. After spending quite a bit of time south of the border, I have to agree.

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