Category Archives: Mexican Holidays

New Year’s Resolutions

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Mexico has some interesting ideas about New Year’s Eve and how you can get what you want later in the year. What do you think of this list of dos and don’ts from Focus on Mexico?

**Wear red underwear for love. Wear yellow underwear to assure happiness and good moments. It is better if the underwear is a gift from someone else. To have many new clothes during the year, wear your underwear backward. (In our part of Mexico, yellow underwear brings the wearer financial prosperity for the coming year.)
**Eat lentils for prosperity. Make a little package of lentils and carry it in your purse all year long so you will have money.
**Walk out of your house with suitcases in your hands at midnight to make trips during the year. You can also walk around the block.
**To have your wishes come true in the new year, eat 12 grapes during the 12 times the bells ring at midnight and make 12 wishes.
**Sweep the floor of your house through the door and out to avoid bad luck. (In our area of Mexico, there is a special cleansing called la Limpieza de las 7 Iglesias using holy water gathered from 7 churches during Semana Santa and chlorine)
**Throw a bucket of water out of your house to clean it from bad vibes.
**Sweep money inside to have prosperity. Put money in your shoes for prosperity.
** Write on a paper everything you don’t want anymore in your life like sadness, anger, etc… and then burn it.

This year, the Flores family bypassed every single one of these traditions. We didn’t even head up the hill for the yearly BYOB (bring your own bucket) family bonfire. And you know what? Nothing bad happened! At least, so far.

On the other hand, there are some new traditions in line with our resolutions that we’d like to implement. I have already begun the Transition Year, as I have dubbed 2016-2017. Along with some personal goals that will be revealed in due course, I have some blogging goals that begin today!

Each month, I will endeavor to find a Woman Writer in Mexico to feature and share with you. In line with starting things out right, this month’s inspiring woman writer is Monique Alvarez.

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“Your life is your adventure’ …say Yes to whatever beckons your heart. Make decisions that line up with your soul…..Push yourself past where you think you can go. Surprise yourself with what you can accomplish…..cherish your uniqueness. Create your world and fill it with all the things that make you happy.

With these inspiring words from “Success Redefined, Travel, Motherhood, and Being the Boss” by Monique Alvarez, I challenge you to rethink your New Year’s resolutions and traditions too.

Use these inspiring questions from Monique to define your resolutions and make your change:

**What are 3-5 things you want to accomplish in the next year?
**What must you do in order to reach each one?
**What must happen for them to fall into place that you have no control over?
**What will it feel like when you accomplish these things?
**How will you celebrate when you accomplish them?
**What is one area of your life on which you’d like to focus over the next 6 months?
**How do you want to grow in this area of your life?
**What is one daily self-care practice you can start right now?

So, armed with our resolutions firmly in mind, let’s begin 2017, shall we?

blessing

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Chambelan at the party

No Quinceañera event would be complete without the party. Despite what you may imagine, it is a highly organized affair, well, at least until that last hour anyway. Remember, this tradition comes from formal presentation of a newly transitioned woman to society, dating back to 500 BC in Mesoamerica.

I was able to make short videos of the various activities at this Quinceañera, but the quality is not the best. I apologize for that. You’ll be able to see my gorgeous son though throughout!

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We arrived a bit earlier that the Quinceañera party. We wandered around a bit until we found tables that weren’t reserved. We were in the chambelan family section. Instead of sitting all at one table, however, each set of parents opted to have their own table for 8. Whatever! I did notice however that the resemblance each chambelan had to his father was marked and we could therefore easily identify the family of each.

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Before too long, the Quinceañera and her escorts arrived and made their formal entrance. My son’s pants seemed to be the only one out of the four that were so tight.

After the formal entry, there was the Ceremony of the Change of Shoes. The Quinceañera’s shoes are replaced with high heels, symbolic of her change in position from child to woman.

After she had received her new shoes, the Quinceañera was crowned. She will always be a princess.

The chambelanes next danced the waltz with Quinceañera. Traditionally, the chambelanes would be eligible young men who would have been considered appropriate mates and thus would have been allowed to pay court to the young woman.

Following the chambelanes’ waltz, was the father-daughter dance. In this case, I thought the choice of Total Eclipse of the Heart an inappropriate song, but hey, I didn’t pick the music. The godfather also took a spin around the dance floor with his goddaughter, but I didn’t record that.

The dancing paused for more ceremony at his point. Next, there was the presentation of flowers. The Quinceañera received two bouquets of blue roses. Then she presented a rose to each and every person who was considered essential to the event, parents, godparents, damas, chambelanes. It took awhile, and several of those so honored were not present, but finally, it was over.
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Following the flower bestowal was the Ceremony of the Last Doll. The Quinceañera was presented with a large doll dressed just like her as her final doll of childhood, based on a Maya tradition.

Also as a symbol of her new status, the Quinceañera was toasted with wine. At this party, only the godparents, parents and chambelanes received wine. The rest of us had to toast with soda.

Then followed the final waltz and exit of the Quinceañera and her escorts.

After a costume change, the Quinceañera, the chambelanes and the damas performed a modern dance sequence. The man of honor, the Quinceañera’s boyfriend, defended his lady love from the zombie like attentions of the unacceptable chambelanes. I didn’t think it was a fair fight. He whipped out a pistol and shot them at the end.

Finally, there was a solo dance by the Quinceañera. It was a bit hoochie-coo for a 15-year-old to perform in my opinion. But I’m not her mother.

Surprisingly enough, we were not served carnitas (pork) but fried chicken. It was ho-hum and certainly not worth the money I’d spent in costuming. After eating, there was a bit more dancing by the young adults.

As I sat there watching my son revel in the power of his youth and beauty, the music like a second heartbeat, I got a bit teary-eyed. How fast he had grown!

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My son dressed for his kindergarten graduation ceremony.

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My son dressed for his role as chambelan.

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Chambelan at the church

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Part of my son’s duty as a chambelan (escort) was to attend the pre-party misa (mass). The church of choice in Moroleon is El Templo del Señor de Esquipulas. The church had been adorned with a few additional touches, like this white flowered lighted tree thingy.

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The ceremony began with the priest anointing everyone with holy water and a march down the aisle to stand before the altar. The Quinceañera had a special seat front and center while the court (chambelanes and damas) had seats to either side of her. Her parents and godparents were also up front.

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I’m not Catholic, and although my husband is, he’s never attended this special Quinceañera mass, so wasn’t much help in explaining things. There was a sermon. The gist of it was that the Quinceañera was now an adult and able to make decisions as an adult, but as a woman of faith, those decisions should be in line with what the holy church dictates. The godparents passed a lit candle to her, representing their obligation of transmitting the flame of faith to the Quinceañera. The Quinceañera read from a red book that I assume is the particular holy book for such events. She promised her devotion and offered her heart to the faith.

Te ofrezco, Se­ñor, mi juventud; guía mis pasos, mis acciones, mis pensamientos. Concédeme la gracia de comprender tu mandamiento nuevo, el mandamiento de amarnos unos a otros. Que tu gracia en mi no resulte vana, te lo pido por Jesucristo, tu Hijo, nuestro Salvador y Redentor. Amén. (I offer you, Lord, my youth; Guide my steps, my actions, my thoughts. Grant me the grace to understand your new commandment, the commandment to love one another. May your grace in me not be in vain, I ask you through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Savior, and Redeemer. Amen)

There was some mention of La Virgin de Guadalupe, and I saw a bouquet of flowers in the Quinceañera’s colors of blue and silver at the foot of her altar.

Madre mía, presenta mi ofrenda y mi vida al Señor. Sé siempre mi modelo de mujer valiente, mi fortaleza y mi guía. Tú tienes el poder de cambiar los corazones; toma pues, mi corazón y hazme digna hija tuya. Amén. (My mother, I present my offering and my life to the Lord. May you always be my model of a brave woman, my strength, and my guide. You have the power to change hearts; Take, then, my heart and make me worthy your daughter. Amen.)

There was some praying, some kneeling, some standing, some bell ringing and some sitting. I wasn’t able to understand it all with the acoustics in the church being what they were.

I did find the promises that the Quinceañera made above and some additional information on the mass procedure. (Misa de  Accion de gracias de Quinceañera, Quinceañera misa guia, Misa para celebrar los 15 años)

Then there was the call to partake communion. At this point, my husband’s latent Catholicism kicked in. He nearly jumped out of his seat with the comment that our son could not partake of the wafer. I just rolled my eyes. Our son certainly was astute enough to know that without being told.

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The Quinceañera and her entourage marched back down the aisle, concluding the services. My husband and I took our leave. We headed to the centro (downtown) for some churros and cacahuates (peanuts) while the picture taking session took place.

About an hour later we headed to the party hall to continue the festivities.

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Chambelan Preparation

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My son was asked to be a replacement chambelan (escort) for a school friend’s Quinceañera (Sweet 15) party. Although he’s attended a Quinceañera before, this would be his first time actually participating in this traditional Mexican coming of age event.

Preparation began two months before the scheduled date. All members of the court (chambelanes, damas and the Quinceañera) had been taking dance lessons. As my son was a replacement, he began classes at a disadvantage. However, he was pleased to report after the first class that the dance instructor was highly impressed with his skills. Dance classes twice a week it was then.

The formal event required a suit. It was $450 pesos to rent, $650 pesos to buy. Not much of a difference really, but we went for the rental option on the basis that he was growing so fast that it wouldn’t fit in 6 months and it was silver, so not practical for other types of events. A week before the party, my son and the other guys went to the tailor to have their measurements taken. The suit was ready for pickup the day before the event. So we went and picked it up.

We peeked at it when we got home to discover that the jacket did not have the two front buttons. Hmm. A few frantic messages later, we were on our way back to the tailor’s for repair. Unfortunately, I didn’t have him try on the pants too. When he put them on, right before the event, he could hardly move. They had been cut too small. Well, there wasn’t any time for any more alternations.

Then there was the outfit for the modern dance section. The morning of the event, he was informed that he needed to wear jeans, a gray t-shirt, black shoes, a leather jacket, and sunglasses. Fortunately, he had all but the last two. I had just bought him a nice modern black jacket and could not understand why that wouldn’t be good enough. I certainly didn’t have the money for a leather jacket. He also didn’t have any sunglasses. So we headed to the market until we found a sunglass vendor. $70 pesos. We also found a vinyl jacket for $375 pesos. The total for this honor was racking up left and right!

He needed to be at the girl’s house at 5:00, so we all dashed about getting ready. We hopped into the truck. My son handed me his sunglasses, and they broke. ARGH! After we dropped him off, we headed to the mall to pick up some super glue. $11 pesos. We went to have our parking validated. In order to validate the parking ticket, we needed to spend a minimum of $50 pesos. I marched back to the store and bought a jar of peanut butter. $55 pesos. My husband repaired the glasses in the truck, and we headed to the church for the pre-party misa (mass).

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