Fill up on tamales at the annual fair in Coyoacán this week. Fill up on tamales at the annual fair in Coyoacán.

Coyoacán culture museum celebrates the tamal this week

The 28th annual tamal fair will draw 50 tamaleros from across Mexico

As the date approaches for a traditional holiday offering of tamales throughout the country, one Mexico City museum is celebrating the pre-Hispanic recipe.

Over 50 tamaleros, or tamal makers, from across Mexico will gather at the National Museum of Popular Cultures in Coyoacán to show off and sell a wide variety of tamal recipes at the 28th annual Feria del Tamal.

The fair begins today and will run through February 2. The museum is open from 10:00am to 8:00pm and admission to the fair is free.

Visitors will be able to find all of the possible varieties, including the Oaxacan-style green chile, mole and sweet tamales steamed in banana leaves. There will also be beverages like chocolate, coffee and the corn-based champurrado to accompany the tamales.

Mexican tradition holds that anyone who finds a baby Jesus figurine in their slice of rosca de reyes (Kings Day bread) must provide tamales for everyone on the Día de la Candelaria, or Candlemas, observed on February 2.

Candlemas is a Catholic holiday that celebrates the day the Virgin Mary first presented the baby Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem. It was customary for women to bring doves as a purification offering 33 days after a boy’s circumcision, but this changed to candles over time.

This Old World celebration was held around the same time that the Mexicas — the inhabitants of the Valley of México when the Spanish arrived — held their Atlcahualo festival to mark the beginning of the planting season.

The indigenous celebration was held to bless the corn to be planted by offering tributes to Quetzalcóatl, god of fertility, light and life; Tláloc, god of rain and lightning; and Chalchiuhtlicue, goddess of lakes, rivers, streams and baptisms.

As the Spanish worked to evangelize the native peoples of Mexico, these customs began to mix and were ultimately syncretized into Mexican Candlemas in its modern form, tamales, chocolate and all.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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