Mucha Fiesta! I knew it would be BIG when two giant tents went up three days ago beyond the tall concrete walls that separate my neighbors from me. I steeled myself for a really BIG party. I even thought I should high tail it to the city for the night to escape the sound of music.
I knew it would be LOUD. I wasn’t sure how loud. And, since I had been up since 5 a.m. to say goodbye to my sister and brother, I thought earplugs would block out the sound by the time I went to bed, early. WRONG.
There are no photos of this wedding fiesta. Only the SOUND OF MUSIC. Here, in this video, just mere feet from my bedroom window. This is what its like living in the village of endless fiestas. Sooner or later, they come to your back door.
Now, a word about weddings. They go on for three days. This is the tradition. There’s the party. Then, the after-party (that’s today, Sunday, and the music started at 11:30 a.m.). And, the clean-up crew party hearty on the third day. Usually there is barbecue beef or pork, plenty of tortillas, beer and of course, mezcal. And, always leftovers.
The music for this one started around 2 p.m. and went until 2 a.m. or so …. It probably wasn’t interrupted by the earthquake that shook my bed at around 11 p.m. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t sleeping, and the quake wasn’t as strong the music.
Another word about weddings. There is the civil wedding, the legal wedding performed by a justice of the peace, and recognized by the state. Then, there is a church wedding. Church weddings can cost $50,000 USD or more, and that’s why many young couples wait for the church wedding until they can afford it. Some never have one.
The one next door was a church wedding. They have been married for years and have children, but the church wedding is icing on the cake. To have children at the wedding altar in church is a common practice here. If children are young, they are sometimes baptized during the wedding ceremony, too. Since the priest comes from another village, there can be several weddings in one day, as was the case yesterday.
I could hear the Jarabe del Valle and firecrackers echoing throughout the village from more than one fiesta site.
In the morning at around 10:30 a.m. a village band led the procession of bride and groom from home to church. We could tell when the ceremony ended because the cohetes (firecrackers) shot up in a trail of smoke from the church courtyard about a mile away.
Tomorrow is Day of the Three Kings. I’m certain all the markets are filled with Rosca de Reyes today. The fiestas continue. We roll from one to the next, with weddings, baptisms, funerals, birthdays and anniversaries in between. Fiestas are part of the culture and tradition of Oaxaca life. Let’s celebrate!
In Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca It’s Dance of the Feather with Basketball and HonkeyTonk Fair
Los Danzantes and the Dance of the Feather, Danza de la Pluma
There’s a lot going on this week in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, where I live part of the year. Next to the Church of Jesus Christ of the Precious Blood and the annual saint’s day celebrations honoring the church founding with the Dance of the Feather, there is a carnival fair with kiddie rides, a basketball tournament, and the daily market. To say there is a traffic jam is an understatement.
Today’s Danza de la Pluma starts at 5 p.m.
How many basketball courts are there in Teotitlan del Valle? Who knows?
At the lighted court, two teams are competing while a crowd looks on. Basketball is a big deal here. This court, next to the village market and across from the church was completed last year, complete with grandstand seating and a raised platform for scorekeeper and the guy who does the play-by-play.
Playing basketball under the shadow of the 17th century church, Teotitlan del Valle
The tournament continues through the entire week and attracts young and older alike. This is important entertainment here. A new court was recently built in my neighborhood and each of the five administrative districts of the village will field their best team for this event.
Ball is in the air. Will he make the hoop? YES!
Some of these young men are talented enough to play for the UNC Tarheels, I think.
Meanwhile, back in the church courtyard, hundreds of visitors are watching
This is the third and last year of this 2016-2018 group of Los Danzantes. It is particularly meaningful now as they get ready to pass the baton to the next group who make the three-year commitment to their church and village traditions.
La Malinche, Moctezuma and Doña Marina hold court
Teotitlan is widely known for its Dance of the Feather. Each group tries to outdo those who came before. They are all capable of high leaps and dizzying spins.
Exit the church courtyard to a world of rides and games
Bright lights, loud music projected via huge loudspeakers, screams of delight from children, and booths filled with all types of cakes and cookies are just beyond the church courtyard.
In the distance, we see the sacred mountain Picacho, but who is paying attention? Surely not those who are playing bingo for a chance to win a large plastic trash pail or those tossing the ring with the hope to land a teddy bear.
Family and friends enjoying nieves, Oaxaca version of ice cream
Families and lovers stroll holding ice cream cones, called nieves here. The word means snow. This treat is more like sorbet or gelato. Moms and dads watch over their children who are deep into the moment.
A commitment to recycling, organic and inorganic waste baskets
I’m with my host family. We stop for esquites and boiled corn cob on a stick. Both are slathered with mayonnaise, shredded cheese, lime juice, hot sauce and chili pepper.
Slathered corn cob on a stick, a Mexican favorite
The esquite maker — an art form, too
Back in the church courtyard, a mezcal toast — salud!
The tradition here is to give and receive guelaguetza, which represents mutual and community support. This includes the significance of gifting mezcal, fruit, bread and chocolate representing abundance for all. It is the responsibility of those more fortunate to help those in need, especially family members.
Members of the church committee distribute fruit to audience members
Stray dog stops play for a moment
Back at the basketball court, the tournament comes to a stop, interrupted by one of the many roaming dogs in the village that is searching for a scrap of food.
Shadows grow longer as the sun descends
The dancers have danced since 1 p.m. It is almost past eight o-clock in the evening. They take breaks with rest, water and Gatorade. There has been no rain so far, so this year the dancing has been a bit easier as temperatures hover in the low eighties (fahrenheit).
Moms watch their children at the rides.
This is a huge regional festival. People from other villages come to enjoy the party. Here, a group of women from Santa Ana del Valle watch their children and take a respite. I can tell where they are from by their elaborate aprons and pleated skirts, a different costume than what traditional women in our village wear.
The grand finale, a prayer by the dancers in the church courtyard
Inside the church, long lines to pay tribute to the altar of the patron saint
Night descends and fiesta-goers shift from church to the adjacent carnival
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Teotitlan del Valle
Tagged basketball, Carnival, celebrations, Dance of the Feather, fiestas, Mexico, Oaxaca, Teotitlan del Valle