Category Archives: Mexican Holidays

El Natalicio de Jose Maria Morelos–The Birthday of Jose Maria Morelos

September 30 is the birthday of José María Teclo Morelos Pérez y Pavón, yet another hero of the Mexican war for independence. He was born in Valladolid, Michoacan which was renamed Morelia in his honor as was the state of Morelos. In those areas, a bit of a hoopla goes on in honor of the birthday boy. Not so much in other areas. 

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Miguel Hidalgo and Morelos

Morelos was a student at the school Colegio de San Nicolás Obispo where Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was a teacher and became an ordained priest. He had three children with Brigida Almonte, two sons and a daughter. He sent his oldest son Juan Nepomuceno Almonte to the United States both for educational and safety reasons.  

Under Morelos’s military leadership, the fight for independence progressed. He headed the  National Constituent Congress of Chilpancingo in 1813 which drafted the “Sentimientos de la Nación” (Sentiments of the Nation) declaring Mexico’s independence from Spain. Congress offered the title Generalissimo (Your Highness) to Morelos but he declined and asked to be called el Siervo de la Nación (Servant of the Nation).

_Que la esclavitud se proscriba para siempre, y lo mismo en las distinción de castas, quedando todos iguales y solo se distinguirá a un americano entre el vicio y la virtud_, Morelos, Sentimientos de la N.jpg Morelos was captured by the Spanish in 1815 tried for treason, disloyalty to the crown, and transgressions in his personal life. He was found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad on December 22.  

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Morelos is found on the 50 peso note along with the state symbol, the Monarch butterfly. The reverse pictures the aqueduct in Morelia, the Bank of Mexico symbol and the prehispanic symbol for Michoacan. And yes, it is pink. Pink is an acceptable masculine color here in Mexico. 

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A little about the Mexican National Anthem

The lengthy tribute to war that is the Mexican national anthem was written in 1853 by Francisco González Bocanegra as an entry to a presidential anthem competition sponsored by Antonio López de Santa Anna. The story goes that Francisco wasn’t interested in entering the competition but his fiancée, Guadalupe González del Pino thought otherwise. Guadalupe lured Francisco to an empty bedroom in her parents’ house and locked him in.  She refused to open the door until he wrote something for the competition. Four hours later, he slid the behemoth poem that was to become the national anthem under his door and Guadalupe set him free.

The first musical accompaniment to the lyrics was rejected, so a second competition was held.  Jaime Nunó’s entry, titled “God and Freedom” (Dios y Libertad), was chosen on August 12, 1854.

Since the full 10 stanza anthem is mighty long, President Manuel Ávila Camacho decreed that the official national anthem would be comprised of the chorus and 1st, 5th, 6th, and 10th stanzas in 1943.

Mexico takes its national anthem quite seriously. In the Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem (Ley Sobre el Escudo, la Bandera y el Himno Nacionales) it is written that any interpretation of the anthem must be performed in a respectful way, that it may not be altered in any way, nor can it be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Permission must be obtained for all reproductions of the national anthems. The anthem must be played at the sign-on and sign-off for all radio and television programming (usually at midnight and 6 am) and that a photo of the Mexican flag must be displayed when the anthem is played on television. If a choir is singing the anthem, then there is no musical accompaniment. Spectators present during the playing of the anthem must stand at attention and remove head coverings. The national anthem must be taught to all children attending preschool, primary and secondary schools. If the anthem is played outside of Mexico, the Secretary of External Relations (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores) must grant permission and verify that the anthem is not used for commercial purposes. If the national anthem is performed incorrectly or disrespectfully, the Mexican government has levied fines in the past.

Not everyone in Mexico speaks Spanish.  Thus, in 2005, the Mexican government allowed the National Institute of Indigenous Languages (Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas) to begin translating the national anthem into indigenous languages.  So far, it has been translated into the Chinanteco, Hña Hñu, Mixteco, Maya, Nahuatl and Tenek languages.

Lest you think you’ll never need to know the national anthem, up until recently, reciting sections of the national anthem was part of the Mexican citizenship test.  In January 2018, the process and test changed and no one is quite sure about the test process or the questions that will be asked but you can bet your bottom dollar that there still will be questions about the national anthem.

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Grandparents’ Day in Mexico

Extended family is important in Mexico. Grandparents often live near their grown children if not in the same house and as a result, are part of the daily lives of their grandchildren.

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In our family, my son’s abuelo (grandfather) lives just up the road.  My husband lived with his grandmother, Mama Sofia, for a time as a teenager. We visited Papa Rique and Mama Vira regularly. Mama and Papa are the shortened forms of Mama Grande and Papa Grande which are the terms used in Cerano for grandparents rather than abuelo/abuela.

So it’s no surprise that Mexico has a day to celebrate grandparents. Most Catholic nations celebrate Grandparents’ Day on July 26 because this is the feast day of Joaquin and Ana whose feast day is July 25.  Joachim and Anne were Mary’s parents and therefore Jesus’ grandparents. But not Mexico. According to some sources, under Porfirio Diaz (which incidentally is my husband’s grandfather’s name and my son’s middle name) events and activities to honor the elderly in the community occurred during the celebration of the feast day of Agustin de Hipona on August 28. Another source credits the idea of Grandparents’ Day to Lazaro Cardenas. Apparently, he made mention that there should be a holiday to celebrate grandparents, but I wasn’t able to find any proof that he actually established a day.  A third story says that Edgar Gaytan Monzon, a radio announcer, developed the idea of Grandparents’ Day because he felt that the UN’s International Day of Older Persons excluded those who were grandparents in their 30s, 40s or 50s.  Being a younger grandparent is not uncommon in Mexico. The average age of a woman having her first child is 21.3 years, although in our area it seems the average age is about 18. So if a woman has her first child at 21 and her child has his or her first child at 21, the woman will be a grandmother at 42.  My husband’s sister became a grandmother this month. She’s 40.  The dates don’t make sense for this last one to be true.  International Day of Older Persons was established after Grandparents’ Day.

What’s more likely is that Mexico saw that the US had a day for Grandparents established in 1978 and thought it was a good idea.  Regardless of whose idea it was, since 1983, Grandparents’ Day has been observed on August 28 in Mexico.

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Mama Vira and Papa Rique with some of their great-grandchildren.

It’s customary for grandchildren to make a card or other small craft to give to their grandparents. Sometimes a special meal is prepared.  As with the other family holidays, the most important thing is to spend time together.

 

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Father’s Day in Mexico

Mexico has been a patriarchal society since pre-conquest times. Yet Father’s Day isn’t as popular in Mexico as Mother’s Day. Only about 50% of Mexican households celebrate Father’s Day, compared to 78% of households that celebrate Mother’s Day.  

According to Walmart, sales are only slightly higher than Valentine’s Day (El Dia del Padre no es Tan Padre). The Mexico City tourism president says this difference in spending is because the father provides the only income for the family and therefore chooses not to spend money on himself.  I don’t know about that. In our town, the women provide the main income for their families.

What I think is more likely, is that in many families, the father is somewhere else working.  One study estimates 9% of Mexican households are without a father in the house.  I find that figure extremely low. Another study says that nearly 35% of male immigrants to the US have children in Mexico under the age of 15. Again, I think that figure is too low.  There isn’t a reliable way to gather this information from undocumented workers or those that are only temporary workers (6 months in Mexico, 6 months in the US).  Those figures don’t include fathers who have gone away to work but are still in Mexico, either at the border or in larger cities.

Although, the father is still “el jefe de la familia” in the Mexican family whether or not he is living full-time under the same roof as his children there is perhaps less motivation to celebrate the holiday in his absence.  

Just like in the US, Father’s Day is the third Sunday in June. Instead of gifts, most families celebrate by having Dad’s favorite meal and letting him be to watch the afternoon soccer game in peace.

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Planting a tree on Father’s Day.

Since the extremely long school year found in most of Mexico means that students are not out for summer vacation yet, most schools have a Father’s Day event the following Monday.  Activities are usually planned that are a bit more dynamic than those expected for Mother’s Day. There are sack races, father/child soccer games, tree planting excursions and maybe a little bottle of tequila in the gift bag.

What are the Father’s Day traditions where you live?

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