As I sit here I am surrounded by happy Mexican extended families and their kids and dogs. Los Tules is crowded because of the holidays. And though these are well-bred, peaceful folks by day, they don’t seem to have a fixed bedtime, and neither do their children. The party rages on, late into the night.
Mexicans, we have decided, love to party. It is one of their most endearing traits. And as an excuse to party, they have a wickedly long holiday season. We are only halfway through.
You will recall the Day of the Dead on November 2. (See this and this.) The Aztecs celebrated this 3000 years ago for the entire month of August. The Catholic Spaniards shifted it to All Saints day, thus shortening the party, but the Mexicans had their revenge by barely pausing to breathe.
Two weeks later it was Revolution Day, when a ginormous parade wended its way through downtown Vallarta. Most impressive were the policemen who did motorcycle tricks, standing on their seats, piling up other cops into a pyramid atop two bikes, and an infinite variety of gymnastics on wheels. (To our scaredy cat American friends: doesn’t this prove how little crime there is in Puerto Vallarta? That the police have time to perfect this?)
The parade included dancing horses, fife and drum corps, school bands, dance teams, and fire trucks, and went on all day and night. And then there’s a party.
But wait! There’s more! Another two weeks to breathe and redecorate, and then then begins the ten-day festival of our Lady of Guadeloupe. She is Spanish, not Mexican, but she has been wholly adopted as a secular heroine throughout the country. This means that even Jewish Mexicans have her statue around. She’s just like everybody’s mother.
The festival involves a week and a half of daily processions, each with different local participants, through streets lined with pop-up Mexican treat stands. And then there’s a party.
Three days after that, the posada season begins. This commemorates the pre-natal excursion of Mary and Joseph, looking for a place to give birth, visiting one inn after another along the way. The modern version involves bringing a potluck dish to somebody’s house. The host cleans and makes the house ready, but doesn’t cook. It is also the name given to the office Christmas parties at long tables in good restaurants, which are nevertheless just as awkward as ours. Still, there’s a party every night.
Skipping over the Solstice parties for now, we proceed to Christmas Eve, when gifts are exchanged and midnight Mass is enjoyed. We weren’t here for Christmas this year, but I remember a lonely Mexican Christmas Eve when I was sitting by a desperately flu-ish Tom. The children from the neighboring room in the hotel knocked on our door with little wrapped presents in hand. Our hearts got all warmed up. Then, there was a party.
December 28 was The Day of the Holy Innocents, commemorating Herod’s murder of baby boys. For some reason, this is celebrated as Mexico’s April Fool’s Day. That must be why somebody set off a series of very loud fireworks outside the villa the other morning at 2:30.
It’s only a couple of days to The Day of the Holy Kings on January 6, when Mexican children get another windfall of presents, this time from the latecomers to the stable. I understand the snack shacks and processions will be back, and I sure hope there’s a party.
Is it over? It’s never over. The locals get their next long weekend on February 4th and 5th, in honor of Constitution Day. There will be a parade and a party. I will report. Watch this space.