May Holidays in Mexico– Pascua de Pentecostés–Pentecost Sunday

pentecostes-el-greco

A special mass is held on Pascua de Pentecostés (Pentecost Sunday) and the church is decorated in red fifty days after Easter.  The red decor is used primarily as a representation of the tongues of fire that appeared over 120 heads Jesus’ followers on Pentecost as described in the bible in Acts 2:1-31.  The tongues of fire were believed to be manifestations of God’s holy spirit and bestowed the ability to speak in “tongues” (other languages) to those gathered.  Those that had received the holy spirit in this form were charged with spreading the teachings of Christ throughout the world.

It is always observed on a Sunday, so as not to interfere with the work-week. May has a plethora of Mexican holidays already. This year (2015) the mass is Sunday, May 24.

Catholics are supposed to fast the evening before and there is a novena (9-day prayer) beginning El Jueves de la Ascension and ending on Pascua de Pentecostés (See La Novena).

first comunion color

As a high holy day, Pentecost Sunday is the big First Communion and Confirmation day. I suppose the idea is that you will be especially blessed by making your Catholicism known on this day. That little extra blessedness might just make the difference down the line.  Better to safe than sorry right?

May is quite the month here in Mexico. Every time you turn around there is another celebration! For other Mexican May holidays see: El Día de los Trabajadores, Conmemoración del Escuadron de Pelea 201, El Dia de La Santa Cruz y El Dia del Albañil, La Batalla de Puebla, Natalicio de Miguel Hidalgo, El Dia de la Madre, El Jueves de la Ascensión, Pascua de Pentecostés, El Día del Maestro, and El Dia del Estudiante

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May Holidays in Mexico–El Dia del Estudiante–Students’ Day

In Mexico, it is more dangerous to be a student than a drug trafficker.

In Mexico, it is more dangerous to be a student than a drug trafficker.

El Dia del Estudiante (Students’ Day) commemorates the violent beating of students by police in a protest march in 1929 at the National University in Mexico City (UNAM). The protest was over political involvement at the University and and the day has been kept as a reminder of the educational freedoms fought for over the years.

Tlateloco massacre 1968

Tlateloco massacre 1968

Violent student repression did not end in 1929 in Mexico. The Tlateloco massacre occurred on October 2, 1968 in Mexico City, 10 days before the opening of the 1968 Summer Olympics. It remains unknown how many students and civilians were murdered by military police. Official reports and eyewitness accounts cite anywhere from 30 to 300 deaths with more than 1,300 arrested, many of whom were never heard from again. In light of events in 2014, this holiday has come to the forefront nationally in Mexico. In case you live under a bushel basket or only believe what the news reports, here’s why.

The teacher daily set up 43 empty desks in memory of the missing students of Ayotzinapa.

The teacher daily set up 43 empty desks in memory of the missing students of Ayotzinapa. The sign behind him reads “I can’t teach class, I’m missing 43.  I hope that tomorrow, I’m not missing you.”

https://youtu.be/hOh04WDWQ74

A group of students from Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College of  arrived in Iguala, Guerrero for a protest march .  A group of university students from Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa traveled to the small town of Iguala, Guerrero for an organized protest march on September 26, 2014. This particular school has a history of social activism, including protest marches, road closures, demonstrations and rallys. These public manifestations are designed to draw attention to the difficult living situation and lack of educational opportunities the people in Guerrero have.

Police officers aggressively confronted the protesting students as they arrived in Iguala. In the shooting that followed, 6 people were killed and 25 wounded.

Forty-three students were taken to the police station in Iguala, then to the police station in Cocula. Once in Cocula, they were transported to the town of Pueblo Viejo and turned over to the local members of Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors), a gang involved in drug trafficking. The students have not been heard from again.

At the insistance of desperate parents, the matter was investigated. Searchers discovered a mass grave near Iguala on October 5, 2014. Later, four more mass graves were found in the area. On December 6, 2014, the body of one student was positively identified through DNA samples. Forty-two families still wait for information about their sons.

At least 80 people have been arrested. More than half of those detained were police officers. The mayor of Iguala and his wife have also been arrested. Investigators discovered that the mayor’s wife is related to the leader of the Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors), however she is to be released from police custody due to lack of evidence.

justiciaDuring the Mexican Revolution of 1910, one of its principle leaders, Emiliano Zapata, declared that “If there is no justice for the people, there should be no peace for the government.” With this motto in mind, families, teachers, fellow students and friends have joined together in nationwide protest marches and demonstrations demanding justice for the missing students of Ayotzinapa.

protest
The President of the Mexican Republic, Enrique Peña Nieto, has instructed the Mexican people to return to their homes and forget about this incident. He warned that continued demonstrations would be stopped with military force. As a result, each protest march since the disappearances has been met with violent police opposition. Despite this, the Mexican people continue demanding radical governmental reform, one protest at a time.

Profesor Claudio Castillo Peña, asesinado por el estado Mexicano. Professor Claudio Castillo Peña was murdered during a protest march  by Mexican federal troops.

Profesor Claudio Castillo Peña, asesinado por el estado Mexicano.
Professor Claudio Castillo Peña was murdered during a protest march by Mexican federal troops.

So much for educational freedom in Mexico.

Mexican saying which translates as "They wanted to bury us, but they had forgotten we were seeds." Original artwork by Clau Guzes

Mexican saying which translates as “They wanted to bury us, but they had forgotten we were seeds.”
Original artwork by Clau Guzes

May is quite the month here in Mexico. Every time you turn around there is another celebration! For other Mexican May holidays see: El Día de los Trabajadores, Conmemoración del Escuadron de Pelea 201, El Dia de La Santa Cruz y El Dia del Albañil, La Batalla de Puebla, Natalicio de Miguel Hidalgo, El Dia de la Madre, El Jueves de la Ascensión, Pascua de Pentecostés, El Día del Maestro, and El Dia del Estudiante

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May Holidays in Mexico–El Día del Maestro–Teachers’ Day

El Día del Maestro (Teachers’ day) is celebrated on May 15th. Recently, this has been marked by a school suspension granted by SEP which means a day off for teachers. Whoohoo! It was first celebrated in 1918 in Mexico.

San Isidoro  Saint Isidore the Famer

San Isidoro
Saint Isidore the Farmer

According to some, May 15th was chosen because of a celebration in San Luis Potosí. Students gathered every May 15 to celebrate the birthday of a teacher named Isidoro, named after Saint Isidore the Farmer, (San Isidoro) whose Saint Day is May 15, the day of his death in the year 1130 or 1172 depending on the source consulted. Isidore, the farmer-not the teacher, was made a Saint in 1622. Saint Isidore is often depicted as a peasant with a stalk of corn and while apropos for Mexico, not exactly a teacher representation.

Come again?

Ok, let’s try that again with a little more explanation. It is common in Mexico to name children after the Saint honored on the day they were born. Or at least to have the Saint as part of the child’s name. So you might hear Justin Isidore or Nancy Maria these days.  My mother-in-law named all of her 11 children after the saint day closest to their birth. Anyway, the teacher Isidore, was born on May 15 of whatever year, which happened to be the Feast Day of Saint Isidore the Farmer. May 15 was Saint Isidore the Farmer’s feast day because he died on May 15 in 1130 or 1172. I’m not sure how that local celebration caused the national holiday to be commemorated on May 15 though.

Another historical, though unrelated event, happened in Mexico on May 15, 1867. The forces of Benito Juarez captured the city of Querétaro on this day. Wiki says that this is a secondary reason for the date chosen. Why a military victory should determine when Teachers’ Day should be celebrated is beyond me.

What seems more likely is the following:

Pope Leo XII made Jean-Baptiste de La Salle, French priest, educational reformer and founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian schools, a saint in 1900. The pope gave La Salle May 24 as his Saint day. Pope Pius X added the Saint day of to the General Roman Calendar in 1904, however as May 24 was already taken, he changed the Saint Day to May 15.

Jean-Baptiste de La Salle

Jean-Baptiste de La Salle

The good Catholic founding fathers of Mexico were familiar with the Catholic Saint Calender and appropriately chose a teacher-saint day as the official Teachers’ Day celebration way back in 1918.

In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared Jean-Baptiste de La Salle the patron saint of teachers and confirmed May 15th as his saint day. Then, in 1969, Jean-Baptiste de La Salle’s Saint Day was changed by Pope Paul V to April 7, which was the date of La Salle’s death. However, Mexico kept right on using May 15 for this holiday.

Moroléon, up until this last year, hosted a dinner and raffle for teachers. As a teacher, I was able to attend several years in a row and enjoyed the mediocre food, music, dancing but was never selected as a raffle winner. Last year, someone in the Presidencia (town hall) decided that teachers weren’t worth the public expense and canceled the town party, although the raffle still took place. I didn’t win anything and don’t know anyone who did. A bit suspicious that…

In most private schools, the owner provides a lunch or dinner to express his or her appreciation for the work the teachers do on the owner’s behalf. After all, the teachers are who make or break a school. My current employer has been generous with both praise and “extras” these past few years and I, for one, have appreciated it immensely.

May is quite the month here in Mexico. Every time you turn around there is another celebration! For other Mexican May holidays see: El Día de los Trabajadores, Conmemoración del Escuadron de Pelea 201, El Dia de La Santa Cruz y El Dia del Albañil, La Batalla de Puebla, Natalicio de Miguel Hidalgo, El Dia de la Madre, El Jueves de la Ascensión, Pascua de Pentecostés, El Día del Maestro, and El Dia del Estudiante

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May Holidays in Mexico–El Jueves de la Ascensión–The Ascent of Christ

ascent

Last year, Easter was at the end of April, so El Jueves de la Ascensión (The Ascent of Christ) was May 29, forty days after Easter Sunday. This year, Easter was earlier, therefore this day is marked on May 14th. It always falls on a Thursday.

This religious event has been celebrated since the 5th century by the Catholic church. As Mexico remains predominantly Catholic, albeit its own mestizo version of Catholicism, El Jueves de la Ascension is a primary religious holiday.

It concludes the 40-day lent period (See Carnival, Lent, Holy Week and Pilgrimages) and is based on the bible accounts found at Luke 24:50-52, Acts 1:9-11 and Mark 16:19. In these accounts, Jesus appeared to his 11 remaining disciples at the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, spoke with them, and then was transfigured before their eyes, rising as a spirit and ascending to heaven.

The Feast of the Ascension is marked with an octave rather than a novena (See Novena) which would be 8 days of prayers with possible fasting and is right up there with Easter and Pentecost in the list of high holy days.

May is quite the month here in Mexico. Every time you turn around there is another celebration! For other Mexican May holidays see: El Día de los Trabajadores, Conmemoración del Escuadron de Pelea 201, El Dia de La Santa Cruz y El Dia del Albañil, La Batalla de Puebla, Natalicio de Miguel Hidalgo, El Dia de la Madre, El Jueves de la Ascensión, Pascua de Pentecostés, El Día del Maestro, and El Dia del Estudiante

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May Holidays in Mexico– El Dia de la Madre–Mother’s Day

My little Mexican

This little guy makes me the proud mother of a Mexican!

May 10th is Mexican Mother’s Day. It’s not an official day off, although all kindergartens and elementary schools, both private and public, have class suspensions for some sort of civic event, whether singing, theater or art, to show appreciation for mom. It’s a fixed holiday, so the day it falls on is the day it is observed as opposed to the Sunday jumping of the U.S.

In Mexico, May 10th was chosen way back in 1911 but didn’t get much attention until 1922, after Rafael Alducin wrote an article in the journal El Hogar supporting the idea of celebrating Mother’s Day. In his article, Alducin stressed the sanctity of motherhood as one of Mexico’s traditional and fundamental values. The Catholic Church took up the call as a way to discourage family planning and reduce the threat of feminism. As a result, the Archbishop of Mexico gave his official blessing to the holiday. After all, Mexico recognizes La Virgen de Guadalupe as the mother of Mexico (See La Virgen de Guadalupe) and what could be more honorable for a Mexican woman than to follow her example?

La Virgen de Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas

La Virgen de Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas

Just as is done with the ultimate Mexican mother, La Virgen de Guadalupe, it is very common to hear mariachi serenading mamas with Las Mananitas at dawn.

The church outdoes itself with a special morning mass for all mothers, sometimes accompanied with atole and tamales. Mothers are treated to bouquets of flowers and chocolates from their children. Families often gather for a traditional meal in honor of the matriarch. Visits to the panteon (cemetery) are also common. A mother is still a mother, even after death. (See El Dia de los Muertos)

As a mother of a Mexican, I have to say, Mexico’s Mother’s Day celebrations have a way of making a mother feel honored.

May is quite the month here in Mexico. Every time you turn around there is another celebration! For other Mexican May holidays see: El Día de los Trabajadores, Conmemoración del Escuadron de Pelea 201, El Dia de La Santa Cruz y El Dia del Albañil, La Batalla de Puebla, Natalicio de Miguel Hidalgo, El Dia de la Madre, El Jueves de la Ascensión, Pascua de Pentecostés, El Día del Maestro, and El Dia del Estudiante

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May Holidays in Mexico– Natalicio de Miguel Hidalgo–Birthday of Miguel Hidalgo

May 8 is an official civic holiday in Mexico, although no one in our area seems to know that. There is even a street in Uriangato (el 8 de mayo) in honor of this holiday, but no one could tell me what was so special about this day that it got its own street name.

But, doing a little research, I found that May 8 is the birthday of Miguel Hidalgo, a revolutionary priest born in 1753, and the day Mexico and the day US first engaged in battle in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Fancy that!

hidalgo

Don Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo-Costilla y Gallaga Mandarte Villaseñor holds the dubious triple title of Father. Once as a priest in the Catholic church, secondly as biological father since he had at least 5 illegitimate children with two different women while serving as a priest and third as the Father of Mexico, although he didn’t live to see Mexican independence. Despite his less than orthodox lifestyle (he liked to drink and gamble too), Hidalgo was a champion of class equality and worked tirelessly to better the lives of the oppressed indigenous and mestizo people of Mexico.

The alhondiga in Guanajuato where the decapitated heads were hung.

The alhondiga in Guanajuato where the decapitated heads were hung.

For his efforts, he was betrayed and sent to the bishop of Durango who defrocked and excommunicated Hidalgo in 1811. He was then tried by a military court, found guilty of treason and executed. His body, along with the bodies of military leaders Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama and Jose Mariano Jimenez, was decapitated. The heads were displayed on the four corners of the Ahondiga de Granaditas in Guanajuato for 10 years.

hidalgo movie

For more information about the life of Miguel Hidalgo, watch the movie Hidalgo--la historia jamas contada
The movie does a good job of portraying the humanity rather than sainthood of Hidalgo.

mexicanwarmap

The second historical event was the first major battle of the Mexican-American War, although the U.S. did not officially declare war on Mexico until May 13. On May 8, 1846, Zachary Taylor and 2,400 U.S. troops arrived at Fort Texas. The Mexican forces were defeated and forced north of the Rio Grande. This war resulted from the refusal of Mexico to recognize Texas as part of the United States

Mexico refers to this war as La Intervención Estadounidense (The United States Invasion) and did not recognize the annexation of Texas by the United States in 1845. After all, Mexico had claimed this area from the Spanish Empire after the Revolution in 1821 and more than 80,000 Mexicans lived in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. Mexico felt the annexation was a hostile action against its borders and declared war on the United States.

Like I mentioned, no one seems to know about these particular events in our area, much less make a big festive deal about them, although I am sure that both events are thoroughly covered in history class.

May is quite the month here in Mexico. Every time you turn around there is another celebration! For other Mexican May holidays see: El Día de los Trabajadores, Conmemoración del Escuadron de Pelea 201, El Dia de La Santa Cruz y El Dia del Albañil, La Batalla de Puebla, Natalicio de Miguel Hidalgo, El Dia de la Madre, El Jueves de la Ascensión, Pascua de Pentecostés, El Día del Maestro, and El Dia del Estudiante

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May Holidays in Mexico– La Batalla de Puebla–The Battle of Puebla

batalla-puebla

Commonly known as Cinco de Mayo, this day is mistakenly thought to be Mexican Independence day. However, May 5 is officially known as La Batalla de Puebla (The Battle of Puebla)and commemorates the Mexican victory over the French in 1862. In Puebla, there is a reenactment of the battle and is more of a big tadoo than in the rest of Mexico, but it is an official day off with most, but not all, businesses and schools closed.

There remains quite a bit of ignorance about the holiday.  Mexico’s own president, Enrique Pena Nieto, believes the battle to have taken place a mere 20 years ago!

See the video clip here:

cinco-de-mayo

So here’s the lowdown…

When President Benito Juarez defaulted on loans made by France, Britain and Spain, the European countries sent forces to Veracruz to collect. Britain and Spain came to terms with Mexico and left. France decided to invade.

Six thousand French troops set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles. Juarez sent 2,000 untrained indigenous and mixed-blood men under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza. The French lost nearly 500 soldiers in the attack and retreated. Less than 100 Mexicans were killed.

It wasn’t the end of the invasion however. France didn’t withdraw its forces for 6 more years. Puebla de Los Angeles was renamed Puebla de Zaragoza after the General who led that rag-tag band to victory but died of typhoid a few months later.

battle of puebla

The U.S. has adopted Cinco de Mayo much as it did with St. Patrick’s Day. Most north of the border celebrations are centered around drinking and maracas rather than any real resemblance to traditional Mexican festivities.

Does that really surprise anyone?

President Obama decided to use Cinco de Mayo in 2015 as a platform for his proposed immigration reform.  Check out the video clip at:

cinco movie

For a better understanding of the complex events surrounding this battle, watch the movie Cinco De Mayo: La Batalla (English Subtitled) or Cinco de Mayo: Yesterday and Today for kids.

cinco de mayo

May is quite the month here in Mexico. Every time you turn around there is another celebration! For other Mexican May holidays see: El Día de los Trabajadores, Conmemoración del Escuadron de Pelea 201, El Dia de La Santa Cruz y El Dia del Albañil, La Batalla de Puebla, Natalicio de Miguel Hidalgo, El Dia de la Madre, El Jueves de la Ascensión, Pascua de Pentecostés, El Día del Maestro, and El Dia del Estudiante

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