Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category

Yesterday, the village of Teotitlán del Valle and its Comité del Museo Comunitario (Community Museum Committee) welcomed the public to the inauguration of the first phase of the restoration of the archaeological zone beneath the Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo.  Before the arrival of the Spanish, the area had been a Zapotec ceremonial plaza.

P1000653

Before:  Teotitlán del Valle archeological site, December 2013

A little background:  In 1553, Oaxaca’s Archbishop Albuquerque ordered the demolition of all Zapotec structures, including those in Teotitlán del Valle.  And, as was the practice of the day, in 1581 the Dominican friars began building their church atop the original Zapotec ceremonial complex.

IMG_3337

During:  Teotitlán del Valle archeological site restoration, February 2019

They scavenged building materials from the Zapotec site (some can be seen in the exterior walls of the church) and tried to erase all evidence of the rich and complex belief system that was already in place.

IMG_3339

During:  Sidewalk supervisor dog keeps an eye on the restoration work at the Teotitlán del Valle archeological site, February 2019.

As regular readers of my blog know, I visit Teotitlán often and am always amazed at the construction projects that pop up — new buildings, additions to homes, and street repairs.  However, this past February, when touring out-of-town friends around Teotitlán, I was surprised to see work being done in the archeological zone.

IMG_3340

During:  Teotitlán del Valle archeological site restoration, February 2019. Note the numbered pieces.

After three years of effort to obtain the necessary permits from the INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History), the work on the restoration of the “basement” began in January 2019.  The end goal is to reclaim, rehabilitate, and restore the Prehispanic Zapotec ceremonial complex.  Teotitlán’s site is concurrent with nearby Mitla, thus the presence of grecas, the fretwork that characterizes the site 15 miles to the southeast.

IMG_4269

After:  Teotitlán del Valle archeological site restoration inauguration day, April 22, 2019.

I’m looking forward to what the next phase will reveal!  By the way, as is the custom in Teotitlán, this major civic event included not only speeches by gathered dignitaries, but also a procession, a performance of dances from the Danza de la Pluma, food, and a concert.

Read Full Post »

Late afternoon on Viernes Santo (Good Friday), images of Jesús and María gathered, blessings were offered, and all began to assemble on the Alcalá for the Procession of Silence.

IMG_4095

Inside Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo, as the Archbishop called upon the people to reflect on the day and improve as people.

IMG_4098

Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (Our Lady of Solitude) arrives to take her place on the procession route.

IMG_4102

Standard bearers line the Alcalá to honor the arrival of the images of María and Jesús.

IMG_4107

San Pedro (Saint Peter), the only apostle to arrive.

IMG_4126

Jesús waiting in the Templo del Carmen Alto before he ventures out to take his place in the procession.

IMG_4118

Another Jesús image emerges from the Templo del Carmen Alto to take his place on the Alcalá for the procession.

IMG_4129

El Señor de Esquipulas ventures out onto Calle García Vigil, from the atrium of Templo del Carmen Alto, for his journey to join the procession on the Alcalá.

IMG_4143

And now, please keep silent, the procession is approaching.

Read Full Post »

The sounds of this morning’s Santo Viacrusis (Stations of the Cross) moving closer, brought me into the mostly deserted streets before 9:00 AM.

IMG_4068

A block away, I found Jesús, La Virgen María, a priest, acolytes, the faithful, and a loudspeaker on the back of a pickup truck.

IMG_4064

Led by the children, images of María and Jesús from churches throughout the city had taken to the streets.

IMG_4085

Stopping along the way to pray and sing, the solemn throng made their way to the Cathedral for a farewell encounter between Mary and Jesus.

IMG_4093

It will be a long day for all concerned.  Following the encuentro, they will process back to their churches for a bit of a rest before this evening’s grand Procession of Silence.

Read Full Post »

It takes 30+ men, doing some heavy lifting, to carry San Salvador, his burro, and Palm Sunday bounty the kilometer between San Antonino Castillo Velasco’s cemetery and village church.

IMG_4038

IMG_4039

IMG_4040

The strength of their devotion.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday was another special Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) in San Antonino Castillo Velasco.  This is a Zapotec village famous for the cultivation of flowers and exquisitely embroidered blouses and dresses, inspired by said flowers.  Returning year-after-year, I never cease to be uplifted by the warmth of the people and the bounty they bring to the image of San Salvador sitting atop his little burro outside the panteón.  The best of their fruits, vegetables, herbs, livestock, clothing, flowers, and much more are gratefully received by a committee, priced, and later-in-the-day, sold to raise money for a designated project.

A little after noon, San Salvador (his burro now filled to the brim), offerings, and the faithful were blessed by the priest.  Fireworks exploded, rhythmic sounds of the traditional teponaxtles (drums) and chirimía (small oboe) sounded, and led by a trail of bougainvillea bracts and the smoke of copal, the litter of San Salvador atop the burro and carried by 30+ men, set off on a journey to the atrium of the church.  They were followed by villagers and visitors carrying the remainder of the goods collected — a ritual reenactment of the Biblical story of Jesus entering Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

The procession successfully navigated overhead wires above and heeded warnings of “topes” (speed bumps) below.  A kilometer down this perilous route, San Salvador and the faithful, young and old, approached the atrium of the church, San Salvador was set on the stage where an outdoor mass was to be said, and on the opposite side, the hand-and-head-carried offerings were to be sold.  I cannot begin to express how warm and welcoming the people of San Antonino Castillo Velasco were.  Wearing a blusa from San Antonino, that I purchased several years ago, I was smiled upon and, as I was taking photos, officials and other villagers ushered me to the front.  Again, I ask, how many magical moments can one person have?

Read Full Post »

Today, the sixth Friday of Lent, Oaxaca honors la Virgen de Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows).  Altars dedicated to her can be found in churches, businesses, and homes.  While the altars vary in their presentation, there are several key features (besides an image of the Virgin and candles) that will be found.

IMG_3845

Altar to la Virgen de Dolores at Templo del Carmen Alto

Wreaths of cucharilla (aka, Dasylirion, Sotol, desert spoon) — grown in Villa de Etla and the Mixtec region of Oaxaca — represent the crown of thorns of Jesus.

IMG_3854_copy

Salvia Hispanica (aka, chia) sprouting from terracotta clay animals decorate altars — seeds which had been blessed on February 2, Día de la Candelaria (Candlemas).  According to an article in MexConnect, “Growing greens remind the viewer of the resurrection and renewal of life.”  Yes, these are the original Chia Pets!

IMG_3851

Ceramic deer covered in chia sprouts on the altar at Templo del Carmen Alto

Bowls of water (often tinted) representing the “sweet tears of Mary” are set among violet colored drapes and flowers — violet being the color associated with Lent.

IMG_3858

Altar to la Virgen de Dolores at Huizache, a cooperative store selling Oaxacan crafts and clothing

Lilies, representing purity and chamomile, representing humility and the beauty of body and soul, can be found on altars.

IMG_3855

Lilies and chamomile on the altar at Templo del Carmen Alto

According to this article (in Spanish), altars to Our Lady of Sorrows started appearing in Oaxaca in the sixteenth century and her veneration on the sixth Friday of Lent grew from there.

IMG_3848

La Virgen de Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows) at Templo del Carmen Alto

Tonight at Templo del Carmen Alto, there will be a reading of the “Vía Dolorosa” (Way of Sorrows), a concert of sacred music by the Coro de la Ciudad (City Chorus), and a tasting of regional Lenten food.  Such is the beginning of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Oaxaca!

Read Full Post »

Even leftover decorations from a Día de la Samaritana agua station in front of an abandoned building are beautiful in their own way.

IMG_3741

Seen on García Vigil at the corner of Jesús Carranza.

Read Full Post »

If you are in Oaxaca and it’s the fourth Friday of Lent, it must be Día de la Samaritana, an “only in Oaxaca” celebration.  This Day of the Good Samaritan was inspired by the Gospel of John story in the New Testament where a tired and thirsty Jesus, on his way to Galilee, asks a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well in Sychar for some water.

IMG_3660

Decorating a well outside the Cathedral

IMG_3707

Sign proclaiming the day, seen on the Alcalá

His request was highly unusual because, according to the Old Testament, “Jews regarded the Samaritans as foreigners and their attitude was often hostile.”  The woman complied with his request and the rest is history.

IMG_3737

Scene at the well outside Templo de San José

IMG_3721

Live actors waiting to reenact the scene

Celebrating the Good Samaritan in Oaxaca began in the atriums of churches at the end of the 19th century and is a popular and much-loved tradition.  Thus I joined thousands of Oaxaqueños and visitors, clutching cups, and wandering from one decorated agua station to another sampling their offerings.

IMG_3731

Samaritana station serving nieve at the Municipal Palace

IMG_3670

One of scores of agua stations on the Alcalá

People of all ages, from small children to grandparents, lined up at bougainvillea and palm decorated booths in front of churches, restaurants, businesses, schools, and even the city’s municipal office building for the traditional Día de la Samaritana free aguas.

IMG_3687

Hand painted ollas in front of Templo de Sangre de Cristo

IMG_3654

Hand painted jicara gourds waiting to be filled with tejate

These “water stations” are often decorated in a violet shade of purple, the color of Lent, symbolizing penance and royalty.  And, the ollas (pots) holding the aguas seem to get more decorative every year.

IMG_3674

Agua stations along the Alcalá

IMG_3700

Watermelon and mint agua station on García Vigil

We are not talking plain water, these are divinely flavored aguas frescas made with fresh fruits, herbs, flowers, and more — jamaica (hibiscus), horchata, chilacayote (squash), tamarindo, sandia (watermelon), tejate, and nieve (sorbet).  Even taxi drivers played the role of Good Samaritans.

IMG_3714

Nieve station in doorway of lingerie store on Independencia

IMG_3709

Taxi drivers host agua station on the Alameda

In previous years, the aftermath hath wrought mountains of garbage — cans overflowing with plastic and styrofoam.  However, this year, in the name of the environment, an appeal was made for people to bring their own cups.  And, I think a majority complied!

IMG_3695

On the Alcalá above Santo Domingo

IMG_3651

An olla with Agua de chilacayote (type of squash)

And me?  After almost two hours, three aguas (watermelon with mint, cucumber with mint, and chilacayote), a nieve of leche quemada and tuna, and being surrounded by smiling people enjoying this celebration of generosity, I returned home with my heart full of love and gratitude for the traditions of Oaxaca.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday, Mexico celebrated el Día del Artesano (Day of the Artisan).  Alas, I’m a day late in recognizing the men and women whose artistry in carrying on traditions and renewing and enriching them with their own creative spirit contributes to Oaxaca’s vibrant cultural life and economy.  However, the entire month of March has been designated “month of the artisan,” so here are several of the artesanas and artesanos who I have had the honor and joy of knowing and visiting over the past year.

IMG_3341

Emilia Gonzalez, wool spinning and dying in Teotitlán del Valle

IMG_2027

Juan Manuel García Esperanza, silver filigree, Ciudad de Oaxaca

IMG_3041

Carrizo basket maker from San Juan Guelavía

IMG_8447

Barro rojo (red clay) potters from San Marcos Tlapazola

IMG_3482

Mural painters in San Martín Tilcajete

IMG_1215

Weaver from Santo Tomás Jalieza

IMG_1980

Eligio Zárate, potter, Santa María Atzompa

IMG_4916

Jesús Sosa Calvo, wood carver and painter, San Martín Tilcaje

IMG_3112

Seamstress, embroiderer, crocheter, Sra. Gutiérrez from Teotitlán del Valle

IMG_3251

Don Luís, weaver, Ciudad de Oaxaca

A very special thank you to Don Luís, whose weaving studio shares a wall with my apartment and I have the pleasure of seeing and hearing most every day.  The rhythmic sounds of his loom are one of the songs on the soundtrack of my Oaxaca life.

Read Full Post »

Scenes from the streets of San Martín Tilcajete during yesterday’s Carnaval craziness.

Jacobo Ángeles

IMG_3601_b&w

“Color is descriptive. Black and white is interpretive.” – Eliott Erwitt

Read Full Post »

Given that Oaxaca loves parades and processions (the numbers of Muertos comparsas and Guelaguetza desfiles seem to grow every year), yesterday the 1st Muestra de Carnavales de los Valles Centrales took over the Macedonio Alcalá walking street with costumes, devils, painted bodies, cowbells, bands, masked men, mezcal, and more.

Santa Ana Zegache

Santa Ana Zegache

In an effort to promote tourism in the villages, residents and visitors were treated to sampling the variety of Carnaval traditions from five of the Valley of Oaxaca’s communities.

San Jacinto Chilteca

San Jacinto Chilteca

The Spanish brought the tradition of Carnaval to Mexico.  However, like many other seasonal celebrations, it conveniently coincided with indigenous festivals celebrating the “lost days” of the Mesoamerican calendar, “when faces were covered to repel or confuse evil.”

Santa María Coyotepec

Santa María Coyotepec

Apparently, it caught on “because it was one time when normal rules could be broken especially with the use of masks to hide identities from the authorities.”

Barrio de San Pablo Zaachila

Barrio de San Pablo Zaachila

This Día de Carnaval (aka, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival), like previous years, we will be heading out to San Martín Tilcajete.

San Martín Tilcajete

San Martín Tilcajete

However, now I’m thinking we might want to add another stop (or four?) to our itinerary.  We shall see…

Read Full Post »

2019 has been proclaimed the International Year of Indigenous Languages by the United Nations.  The issue of “lenguas maternas” (mother tongues) has a particular resonance in Oaxaca, as the state is home to 16 distinct ethnolinguistic groups:  Amuzgos, Chatino, Chinanteco, Chocho, Chontal, Cuicateco, Huave, Ixcateco, Mazateco, Mixe, Mixteco, Náhuatl, Popoloca, Triqui, Zapoteco, and Zoque.

IMG_3235

As anyone who has visited the villages of Oaxaca has discovered, sometimes the abuelos and abuelas only speak their mother tongue, not Spanish.  To honor and celebrate them, their ancestors, and their children and grandchildren, today on the zócalo, Oaxaca celebrated those languages with songs, poetry, and recitations.

IMG_3238

However, like indigenous languages throughout the world, Mexico’s indigenous languages are in danger of disappearing.  The importance of passing these languages and the world views they express to the younger generations cannot be underestimated.

IMG_3230

Thus here in Oaxaca, on February 21, 2019, Mother Language Day, you can walk The roads of the feathered serpent: revaluing one of the variants of the Zapotec Valley of Oaxaca” and “Meet the Zapotec of Teotitlán through storytelling and other activities!” at the Biblioteca Infantil (Children’s Library). 

Read Full Post »

The signs of Valentine’s Day are everywhere…

IMG_3226

Ready for the fiesta on the patio of my apartment complex.

IMG_3195

Tin hearts on display at the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular de Oaxaca (MEAPO) shop in San San Bartolo Coyotepec.

While it may be a holiday imported from Europe, Mexico embraces the celebration.

IMG_3191

Dining room ceiling of Los Huamuches, between Santo Tomás Jalieza and San Martín Tilcajete.

IMG_3220

Balloons on the zócalo in Oaxaca de Juárez.

Wishing you ¡Feliz Día del Amor y la Amistad!

IMG_3164

Bougainvillea on a cross at the palenque of Faustino García Vásquez, San Baltazar Chichicápam.

IMG_3224

Ready for the fiesta on the patio of my apartment complex.

Happy Day of Love and Friendship to all!

Read Full Post »

On Sunday in San Juan Guelavía for the Feria del Carrizo in the municipal plaza, the sounds of a procession drew me next door to the church.

img_3014_port

A procession!  I’m not sure if the occasion had anything to to with patron saint, San Juan Bautista.  However, what I do know is that I love being surprised and delighted by Oaxaca — a place I am proud to now call home.

Read Full Post »

If it’s Saturday, it must be wedding day in Oaxaca.

img_2979

They are scheduled one right after another at several of the churches, especially those on Macedonio Alcalá (the walking street).

img_2981

As a result, there is a lot of waiting by the wedding parties, bands, and monos.

img_2977

All dressed up with someplace to go!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: