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Las celebraciones de México

Octavio Paz, Nobel Prize of literature, 1992, states in his book The Labyrinth of Solitude, that the Mexican discharges his soul during fiestas. In the United States, at our Fourth of July parades, spectators outnumber the participants. While, in México, there are no spectators. All people participate in the thousands of celebrations that take place yearly. “The life of every city and village is ruled by a patron saint whose blessing is celebrated with devout regularity.” “Fiestas are our only luxury, they replace theater and vacations.” To the uninitiated, the common fiesta in the country of México can appear to be utter chaos with booming, earth- shaking fireworks, loud music, smoke, costumes, alcohol, food, laughter, crying, and bright colors filling one’s eyes. The order and organization of parades in United States has no place in the splendor that are Mexican fiestas. New Orleans may be the only city in this country where Mardi Gras as an event resembles a celebration south of the border. “The army, the clergy, and the law are ridiculed in these fiestas. Men disguise themselves as women, rich as poor, gentlemen as slaves”. “The solitary Mexican loves fiestas and public gatherings.” The fiesta in México is an event where good and evil merge, day and night become one, the sacred and the profane are entangled. The celebration resembles a revolt, a revolution to the daily monotony that can take hold of a person, of a community. The day of the event(or the days of the event, in some cases) serves as a cleansing. It becomes an organic period of living life to the extreme. Paz states that this is where one truly lives – at the extremes, be it skydiving, dancing until the wee hours, partying, or celebrating without a care in the world. Of course, one ought not to participate in such luxury too often if a long healthy life is the goal.
In the United States some may say that what we lack celebrations. We simply do not have enough of them throughout the year. Too many would curtail the machine called capitalism. In México, the funding of the pueblo celebration becomes the responsibility of one family. The patriarch of the family more than likely will go into great debt in order to provide food, music, and drink to an entire village. Each year, a different family is elected to cover the expenses of the town’s celebration of their patron saint. This activity would not be recommended by any professor of economics for increasing one’s wealth.
Octavio Paz noted that Mexico is both the most Spanish country outside of Spain, and also the most indigenous country in Latin America. It may be that he was referring to the sheer numbers of indigenous people living in Mexico. While the country of Guatemala at 60 percent represents the highest percentage of indigenous people in any country in the western hemisphere (http://www.refworld.org/docid/49749d163c.html), Mexico’s population of indigenous people is the largest in Latin America. Perú is second in indigenous population with 8 million people identifying themselves as Quechua. In Mexico, 8.7 million people are indigenous, 10.7% of the total population.

The marriage of Catholicism with pagan religions has in some ways added to the number of celebrations taking place south of the U.S. border. http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/csq/article/mexicos-indigenous-population

One negative aspect of celebrations focuses on the fact that too many men of the country suffer from alcoholism. Drinking alcohol is very much a part of the machismo that composes many Spanish-speaking countries. In the past decade, for the first time, the message of drinking responsibly has been spread. Yet, even so, it will be quite some time before the male population will curtail drinking. As smoking cigarettes has gone down in some of our U.S. states, it may be that education and time will lead people to drink with moderation in mind. Still, it is much more common to see people enjoying themselves in fiestas and not engaging in behavior detrimental to one’s person.

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