Adoring the Saints
Fiestas in Central Mexico
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Texas Press
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Latin America is well known for its exuberant festivals and rituals. These include indigenous curing and puberty rites, Mardi Gras and carnivals, and town and village patron saint fiestas. While derived in part from ritual observances of the Catholic Church, Latin American fiestas typically commingle European, indigenous, and African elements. They are a centuries-old way of letting off steam, celebrations that...
One. Setting the Stage
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Along the main highway between San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato, a sign at the entrance of a wide dirt road indicates Cruz del Palmar. This road takes one down several kilometers to this village (rancho), a parish (parroquia) belonging to the diocese of Celaya, and part of the municipality (municipio) of San Miguel de Allende. Cruz del Palmar can also be reached following the...
Two. Fiesta Leaders, Officials,and Saints (Mayordomos, cargueros, y santos)
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For a patron saint fiesta to occur, an extraordinarily complex organization must be put in place. Many individuals with specific abilities and talents must be mobilized to carry out specific tasks. A network of social and economic ties must be activated, and adequate funding must be found. Central to this organization are the individuals who take on civil-religious roles called cargos.
Three. Vigils, Visits, and Ritual Meals (Velaciones, posadas, y reliquias)
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Visitors walking around a neighborhood or a village in the evening after dark in the region of Cruz del Palmar and San Luis de la Paz during a patron saint fiesta are likely to come across a house or a courtyard where people are gathered and are singing, accompanied by various string instruments. They probably will not know or have never...
Four. Processions, Encounters, Ceremonies, and Masses (Procesiones, encuentros, ceremonias, y misas)
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Religious celebrations in Mexico are famous for their spectacular processions, involving a profusion of flowers, pageantry, music, and costumes, with huge crowds moving along and many spectators watching. Patron saint fiestas are one of the occasions for such elaborate processions. Large processions carry, indeed display and honor, the...
Five. Dances, Dance Dramas, and Entertainments
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From the time of the arrival of the Spaniards to the present day, observers have been fascinated and impressed by the spectacular dances and dance dramas of Mexico. The Aztecs had elaborate dances, and the Spaniards introduced the dances of the Moors and Christians (Moros y Cristianos) to convert the natives and to celebrate this conversion.
Six. Toward Understanding the Patron Saint Fiesta
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What do patron saint fiestas signify for the communities and the people who participate in them? What do these fiestas reveal about their cultural behaviors and practices? What is the significance of the various dances and processions that take place during fiestas? What is the significance of the religious practices associated with patron saint...
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Page Count: 219
Illustrations: 40 b&w photos, 6 line drawings
Publication Year: 2009