Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca: Ancient Tradition of Community-Building–Dance of the Old Men

On the Monday after Easter Sunday each year, a centuries old tradition begins anew and continues for five days, Monday through Friday. It is called the Dance of the Old Men or Baile de los Viejos. Few communities in Mexico still engage in this pre-Hispanic practice. It is alive and well in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, a self-governing usos y costumbres pueblo.

For some, it looks like Carnival.  Locals and tourists alike call it this. But the tradition goes much deeper and is a communication vehicle to give feedback to village leadership about their fairness, management style, and use of community funds.  It is intended to be anonymous and that is why those representing each of the five sections in the village dress are masked and in costume.

Here are posts I have written to show you photos and give you insight into the customs and traditions of the Dance of the Old Men.

  1. Dance of the Old Men
  2. Baile de los Viejitos
  3. Carnival in Teotitlan del Valle Part I
  4. Carnival in Teotitlan del Valle Part II

If you are in Oaxaca for Semana Santa, this is a not-to-be-missed cultural experience.  Here is the schedule.

Monday-Friday: 6 p.m. gather in the courtyard of the Municipal Palace, where each section of the village has an opportunity to be represented by their spokespeople to the elected leadership.



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