Mexico is in the midst of Carnival season, an event that is celebrated in many communities between January and March, concluding before the contrastingly quiet period of solemn reflection and prayer known as Lent.
First up on a list prepared by the newspaper El Sol de Zacatecas is the Campeche Carnival, one that kickstarts the season and, at over a month long, is Mexico’s longest.
It started February 10 with a funeral procession and the burial of bad humor, represented by a life-size rag doll dressed as a pirate. But instead of being interred, the doll is set on fire, after which celebrations start in earnest with a flower festival and popular dances, and a parade of carnival floats.
The Campeche Carnival goes on into March, culminating on the 18th.
The internationally renowned Carnaval de Veracruz, described as “the world’s most cheerful carnival,” starts on the 22nd and ends on the 28th.
The opening ceremony features the coronation of the carnival’s child queen and king, and danzón and marimba rhythms can be heard throughout the week.
The festivities round up with musical concerts, carnivalesque floats, burning bad humor in effigy and the burial of Juan Carnaval.
Starting the same day is the Mérida Carnival, known as the carnival of dances. These include mambo, cumbia, cha-cha-cha and salsa.
Set in a family environment, bad humor is also burned here. The carnival also includes troupes parading on the streets, cultural activities and contests including the battle of the flowers, in which participants throw flowers at each other.
All festivities in the Yucatán capital conclude on March 1.
In Ensenada, Baja California, six days of Carnival start on February 23. Along with the usual parades, crownings, music and partying, men oppressed by matriarchal society can peep outside for a day and enjoy the Dance of the Oppressed Husband.
Mazatlán celebrates over 100 years of Carnival tradition with festivities starting also on the 23rd and concluding on the 28th. Cultural activities are set on the beach, and festivities are marked by the music of la tambora, a Dominican drum.
Carnivals are not restricted to coastal communities. The Carnival of Tlaxcala showcases dances of Nahua origin, along with sones and jarabes inherited from the colonial 18th century. The colorful parades and celebrations do not include the burning effigies, but hanging them.
The Tlaxcala carnival starts on February 24 and ends on the last day of the month.
Not far from Tlaxcala is Huejotzingo in the state of Puebla, whose carnival has been continuously celebrated since 1868, making it one of the oldest in Mexico.
Over 20,000 people take to the streets wearing varied and colorful costumes, turning the main street into a stage where important historic events are reenacted, such as the Cinco de Mayo battle.
The Huejotzingo carnival starts on the 25th and also concludes on the last day of the month.
Source: El Sol de Zacatecas (sp)