Nov 30, 2007, 8:34 AM
Post #2 of 11
During the night when I awoke at 3:00 to the horrible screeching of the singers and the tom toms of the band in the plaza and again this morning when the cohetes went off at 6:00, I began to wonder about the celebrations that they represent. Horrible screeching of the singers? Tom toms of the band? Bloviator, you've lived in Ajijic for some time now, but your information re your town is seriously lacking and your value judgments need a reality check.
I know I should know this, and I did try to research it, but I'm not sure why the whole thing happens. If I understand it correctly, for Ajijic, it is the celebration of the patron saint of Ajijic (November 22-30). It goes on for nine days. Is this correct?
I've heard various discussions of the cohetes. One is that they are a carry-over from the earliest times when the Catholic Church had to adopt pre-Christian practices in order to attract the native population to the Church. Since human sacrifice was a little too radical, the setting off of fireworks to "awaken the Virgin." was adopted.
I've also heard that the cohetes are a good money maker for the church as that is where they are purchased (This is very uninformed on my part, and I'm only positing it because it is something I have heard).
I'm curious as to when the whole celebration started. I'm also curious as to how much longer it will continue - not days, but years and decades.
When Ajijic was a simple farming (with the growing season winding down in November) and fishing village, the people could party all night, arise to the cohetes in the early AM, and then go back to sleep for the rest of the day. Nowadays, when people have to get up and go to work, it would seem that it might be a little difficult to continue the nine day schedule of non stop partying and religious celebrations and still work effectively.
Of course, some might just not work for the whole time and devote the period to partying and religion. It's sort of like workers in Lake Tahoe and many parts of the West and Northwest. When deer season, fishing season, or ski season starts, lots of construction and similar work just shut down because few workers would show up to work for a week or so. Many in those communities are motivated not by money, but by life style choices.
Again, in the simple farm and fishing village, money was relatively unimportant. Today, many need money in order to survive. In order to get money, they have to work. After all, cohetes and all night parties require payment. In order to work and to continue to have a job, they have to show up for work.
I'm not sure who stays up until 2-3 AM partying and who gets up at 4-5 to set off the cohetes or who goes to the church at 6 AM. I suspect the partying is mostly the young, the cohete firers more middle aged, and the church goers of all ages.
Nevertheless, I would imagine that a lot of the people who have to get up early and put in a hard day's work, are home trying to sleep through the din. Again, this is sort of heresay, but I've spoken to some Mexicans and heard of others who are a little weary of the constant noise during this period. For this and the above things, I am wondering if the tradition will continue into the future.
To be clear. I'm not complaining, making suggestions, or trying to change Mexico and its culture. I'm just wondering what the future will bring.
1. The November 22 through 30 fiestas are in honor of San Andrés, the patron saint of Ajijic. This nine-day party is called a novena, and throughout Mexico a full-on fiesta patronal is always nine days. By the way, after the final festivities for San Andrés, you'll have a two-day respite and then the Ajijic fiestas for Our Lady of Guadalupe start. The Virgen de Guadalupe novena dates are December 3 through 12. The fiestas are held in the Seis Esquinas neighborhood, where the Santuario de Guadalupe is located. When that's over, there's a three-day respite and then the novena for Christmas starts. That novena is called the posadas, and it's celebrated somewhat differently--but that's another post.
2. The cohetes are not purchased from the church. The cohetes are purchased from coheteros (manufacturers) who live and work right in town or in other villages nearby. Each day of the on-going fiestas is sponsored by an Ajijic gremio (like a trade union) as well as by a specific neighborhood in Ajijic, and each gremio purchases cohetes and a castillo, hires the band or bands for the day/night, etc. The most powerful gremio in Ajijic is that of the albañiles (construction workers). The day that they sponsor is always the loudest, longest, and the most popular. Each gremio collects money from its members throughout the year to pay for the fiestas in November. The cohetes are set off by the professional coheteros, not by members of the gremio.
Here's a schedule of gremio sponsorship for this year's fiestas, missing the 22nd and 23rd, which I don't have:
24th: Profesionistas, Empleadas, Domesticas, Esteticas,
Artesanos, Costureras, Maestros, Negocios: Puerto del Lago and
Peluqueria Aguayo, Escuela Biblica.
25th: Comerciantes, Carpinteros y Panaderos. Barrio San Gaspar.
26th: Nueva Posada, Grupo de Misioneros.
27th: Agricultores, Ganaderos y Delegacion Municipal de Ajijic.
Barrio San Miguel.
28th: Construccion y Asociados - Barrio de Guadalupe.
29th: Jardineros y Trajajadoras Unidas - Barrio San Sebastian.
30th: Hijos Ausentes en Estados Unidos.
3. Your statements about what life was like when Ajijic was a "simple farming and fishing village" are shocking. People awakened by the cohetes and rolling over to sleep the day away, till the party started in the evening--because they didn't have to work? Farming and fishing are hard physical work, Bloviator. We're not talking about harvesting corn with a John Deere machine. Hand-harvesting corn is hell. And we're not talking about sitting on the lake shore with a cane pole and a worm, either. Fishing is heavy, hard work, done from a handmade boat, with a handmade net. Your post seems to assume that only MEN work--women have always worked, and that work is never-ending. There might have been some folks who went "back to sleep for the rest of the day"--and there probably still are some who do that--but fiestas or no fiestas, work goes on as usual.
4. Have you ever wandered down to the Ajijic plaza during a fiesta night? You'll find people of every age group, from the tiniest babies in arms to the elderly great-grandparents, everyone out milling around, eating at all the food booths, having a canela (hot cinnamon tea, sometimes with a shot of liquor added), riding the Ferris wheel, poking around in the fiesta markets, and just generally enjoying a night out with their families, friends, and neighbors. People of every age stay till the last cohete is fired, till the last dance is danced, till it's time to go home to sleep and get rested for the 6AM procession (hosted each day by a different Ajijic barrio, where the daily procession starts), the day's work and the next night's party.
Primeramente Dios, the traditions of the fiestas will last till the end of time. It might be bread and circuses to you, but it's a way of life that shouldn't disappear.
(This post was edited by esperanza on Nov 30, 2007, 8:37 AM)