TRADITIONS OF CAMPECHE
Traditions in CAMPECHE
Campeche is a State of Mexico and is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and traditional States of this country. Campeche is located in the southeast of Mexico and borders the states of Yucatan to the north, the state of Quintana Roo to the east, and the countries of Guatemala and Belize to the south.
The capital of this State is called San Francisco de Campeche and it is also the city with the largest population in Campeche. It is one of the most traditional States , while many would think that Campeche is similar to the rest of Mexico, with the traditional vendors of snacks in the streets and with a rhythm of life similar to that of other cities in Mexico, the truth is that Campeche has a lot of culture and family traditions, which make to this State in a very original place.
Campeche is characterized by its unique way of preserving and celebrating its popular and religious festivals. In each municipality, the patron saint of each town or region is celebrated in a similar way.
Festivities in CAMPECHE
As its name indicates, it is the Fiesta de la Cabeza de Cochino. Polkeken comes from the Mayan words Pol which means head and Kekén which means pig. Traditional celebration in which women wear traditional costumes from this region of Mexico, to dance the Danza de Gallo y Cochino. The event is celebrated in January in the city of Lerma, it represents a gratitude to nature, which was considered the origin and foundation of life; as well as provider of their satisfiers.
In La Danza de Gallo, a dancer holds a pig’s head with colored ribbons on his head. For the Mayans, it was a magical cycle in which they tried to maintain a balance to avoid lightning, droughts, heavy rains; as well as everything they feared and could not control
It is celebrated from 1907 within the celebration of the Feast of the Three Kings. It marks an epilogue and the final goal of said celebration, where various groups made up of seven or eight families make novenas honoring the memory of the Three Wise Men asking for a good harvest and fishing, traditional activities of this Campeche community.
During the first six days of January, the Kings have novenas; On January 6 or 7, a group goes out to visit the others and together make a tour of the community with jarana music and end the party with a banquet where the main stew is the pig, several animal heads are offered to the foot of the altars, hence the name of Polkekén.
Festival of the Historic Center of Campeche
In December 1999, coinciding with the title of World Heritage, the Christmas Concert was held for the first time and various cultural and artistic dissemination strategies were established. This festival is expected year after year for the excellent quality of the events that are presented.
Over the years, this festival has established itself as the highest exponent of the arts in the entity and a creative and plural scene of cultural dissemination from various parts of the world where different artistic proposals converge, such as dance, music, visual arts and theater; and musicals, from jazz, classical music to the typical music of the region such as jarana and trova campechana.
The atrium of the Cathedral has become a spectacular forum that brings together thousands of people each year at the concerts offered there. At the same time, the Jazz Festival is held with an attractive program and the participation of renowned exponents of the genre. A whole visual and sound experience that opens the imagination represents what is already a tradition in the city of Campeche.
Other cultural festivals that take place in the state are the Theater and the Cervantino, as Campeche has been for several years an important venue and extension of the largest cultural celebration in the country.
Festivities of the Black Christ of San Román
Celebration surrounded by a halo of divinity originated according to popular belief in a miracle that occurred on September 14, 1565, when an ebony image -which according to legend was carved in Italy- arrived in the middle of a storm in less than 24 hours of Alvarado, Veracruz to Campeche, even when around him other ships were shipwrecked.
Since then, the memory of Juan Cano de Coca Gaytán, a successful merchant whose ship navigated the stormy waters, and his most famous crew member, the Black Christ, have been engraved in the memory of the people of Campeche, and therefore, since that distant September 14 since 1565 there have been acts in his honor that have become the fair that we enjoy today.
It is celebrated from September 13 to 29, Christ is lowered from his altar to approach the parishioners, who kiss his feet to get the blessing of the slender figure. Pilgrimages through the streets of the neighborhood fill the population with joy while, in the surroundings, the mechanical games fill with fun in this deep-rooted tradition of the city of San Francisco de Campeche.
The religious fervor is accompanied by cultural and artistic activities, and various exhibitions. Serenades, floral game contests, agricultural, livestock, craft and industrial exhibitions, the coronation of the queen of the fair, the mechanical games, they illuminate with their neon lights the places near the sea on the boardwalk, the stalls to win diverse artisanal objects are visited, as well as the traditional regional “vaquería” of great convocation.
Festival of the San Francisco neighborhood
Part of the traditions of Campeche are religious, as is the case of the San Francisco fair. This festivity is one of the main ones in the city, since it is in honor of San Francisco de Asís, patron saint of the capital.
This is one of the traditions of Campeche that began with the arrival of the Black Christ in the city in 1565. The Black Christ is located in the San Román neighborhood of San Francisco de Campeche. A tradition celebrated in September, specifically from the 13th to the 29th that brings together a large number of parishioners.
It takes place at the beginning of October, and what can be seen that day are cultural events, serenades, floral game contests, agricultural, livestock, craft and industrial exhibitions, as well as mechanical games, processions and popular dances.; processions and liturgical services.
It is celebrated between the months of February and March but it does not have a defined date, being influenced by the climate and the organization of the premises. The Campeche carnival has been held for more than 450 years, making it the oldest in Mexico.
It begins with “The funeral ride and burial of bad humor.” The bad mood is represented with a rag doll with pirate features, which is paraded through the streets of the city inside a coffin and is burned to give way to joy. Coronations of kings and queens of the various neighborhoods, neighborhoods, clubs, schools and private companies are held, with comparsa dances and shows by musical groups.
Various parades are also held, such as: parade of allegorical cars, the rooster of queens and ambassadors, the walk of flowers, the children’s parade, the naval round and the traditional “bando”. The carnival concludes the day before Ash Wednesday with “La quema de Juan Carnaval”, a rag doll that represents the carnival, which is also burned while “his widows cry” for him.
This day, the Campeche boardwalk is filled with vibrant colors with the clothing of the participants and a lot of hubbub. During this day, attendees also enjoy mechanical games, traditional food and many more attractions.
La Pintadera is one of the most interesting and fun traditions during carnival week, precisely on Tuesday. It consists of throwing water or paint balloons among all the participants among the people who wish to participate, although they also include the runners of the popular races.
Although it is true that it is a tradition that is being lost, there are several groups that fight to maintain this ancient tradition. The few that still do, allow quite an amusing spectacle to be seen. It is considered one of the traditions of Campeche, since it is related to the carnival, we hope that at least you get to see it sometime.
Of deep tradition it was celebrated on the occasion of branding the cattle of the haciendas- hence its name, vaquería (cow farm), amalgamation of religious worship and Spanish folklore mixed with the beliefs of the Mayan people. The name of vaquería in Mayan is U-Chanil-In-Kahal or Fiesta del Pueblo, because the women were called cowgirls when wearing cowboy-style hats.
An important part of this dance is dancing with the head of a pig, which gives way to hours of dance in which the woman acts as the protagonist of the celebration at a rhythm of six by eight and three by four offered by the sonideras peninsular charangas. It is reminiscent of an offering, a thanksgiving that the Mayans used to perform since pre-Hispanic times, after a hunt, sharing the pieces (Tos Pool) of the hunted animal among the participants, and when he gave himself up there was dancing revelry.
That is why, starting in the year 2000, as a means to spread the symbolic universe of the community, in the recently named World Heritage City, it was proposed to celebrate a “vaquería” in the main park. Such a proposal was intended to demonstrate a living tradition with a broad popular spectrum, a connection platform between the authorities and the citizenry, promoting and preserving the cultivation of a popular practice.
The “vaquería” is celebrated within a religious framework in each rural community, which is why it was decided to insert it into the festivities of the Black Christ of San Román, receiving wide acceptance to this day that is celebrated in the Parque de la República.
This is how “La Vaquería” is part of the regional culture and is a sign of the Mayan-colonial influence, which concentrates an expression of the Campeche miscegenation, a historical tradition that remains alive and shows a future of permanence thanks to the practice in typical festivities.
La Candelaria is one of the most popular and traditional festivals in Campeche. It is celebrated on February 2 with dances, fireworks, mechanical games, processions and religious dawns. You can especially visit the celebrations in Champotón, Candelaria, Hool and Campeche. In the municipality of Candelaria, the town celebrates the festivity with a fair in which they sing “Las mañanitas” and at night they dress the sky with fireworks.
Although the festival of Día de la Candelaria is celebrated in this way in Campeche, we must not forget that February 2 marks the beginning of the year in various parts of the ancient world, the end of the snowy season and the awakening of the Mother Nature. On the other hand, the Church instituted it as the Day of the Purification of Mary, on which it falls precisely forty days after Christmas.
Located just 40 minutes from the capital city, Hool, municipality of Champotón, is a small community of just 3,500 inhabitants that brings together more than 10,000 people for the Candelaria celebrations, including families from various municipalities. and from neighboring entities that settle in camps for up to a week. At Hool, children receive a mud cross on their foreheads for them to attend each year.
At the top of a hill, with blue and white walls and red painted doors, you can see the Church of Hool, where an image of the Virgen de la Candelaria is carried on the shoulders. The ringing of the bells located at the top of the church of the Immaculate Conception announces the arrival of the procession that is a mixture of customs and traditions on a special date.
La Virgen del Carmen
In all the places that carry Del Carmen in their name, they have a wonderful story that tells why this virgin is their patron saint and protector, for example, Ciudad del Carmen, in Campeche. It takes place from July 15 to 30, in Ciudad del Carmen, within the island, and brings together hundreds of parishioners in religious events, walks of the sacred image through the lagoon, as well as parties and mechanical games, as well as events livestock, cultural and sports activities.
The origin of this celebration lies in the recovery of Terminos Island, which had been taken by English pirates who extracted dyewood and precious wood from here, a fact that occurred on July 16, 1718. Flagged by the blessing of the image of The Virgen del Carmen achieved a successful battle and from then on gave the island its name and is celebrated with great devotion. In gratitude for her, it was named Ciudad del Carmen and a chapel was built in her honor inside its fort.
In 1900, as a sign of gratitude and love, the fishermen of Ciudad del Carmen gave the Virgin a golden crown; On July 16, 1956, the centenary of the city was celebrated, and the residents gave the Virgen del Carmen a new crown, more beautiful and with the coat of arms of the city, and paraded it throughout the bay aboard a shrimp boat called “Centenario del Carmen”.
This walk was repeated in 1968 and the following year oil wells were discovered in the same area, in this way the people considered that it was a blessing from the Virgin, almost a miracle, since then every year without exception he is paraded around the bay.
Day of the Dead in Campeche
The Feast of All Saints, is celebrated every year in Campeche, from October 31 to November 2, which is the day of the faithful departed, it is believed that the souls visit the house they once inhabited. This tradition includes religious ceremonies, special offerings and visits to cemeteries, as well as altars with flower arrangements in the houses of the people of Campeche.
In the city of Campeche as well as in rural areas and municipalities of Mayan origin, it is common to find an altar to the dead in each home dwelling, attractive to the eye, not only for the food but for the various flowers that give off their characteristic odor. mixed with those of banquet so profuse, as well as the sweet and attractive fragrance of incense.
Traditional drinks and foods of this state are also offered at the altars and consumed by all. The food is just the climax of a preparation made in advance, a tradition that takes on a ritual aspect, where a whole family cleans their house, prepares tablecloths, recalls the personality of the deceased and offers their favorite delicacies.
It is precisely in the historic center of San Francisco de Campeche that on the 31st the Altars of the Dead Contest was held with the participation of schools and businesses, which constitutes an educational outing for children who learn about their roots and traditions, and for foreign tourists a spectacle of colors and flavors of enormous fascination.
The first of November celebrates the feast of All Saints, however, due to the outstanding syncretism, in this region it has been merged with the Hanal Pixán or “food of the souls” of the Mayan worldview. This festival acquires a magical symbolism of enormous appeal, both for locals and for strangers.
This is one of the most anticipated and respected festivals by the inhabitants of Campeche where families participate in the different activities for the offering, which in rural areas is mixed with the best of what is obtained in the harvest.
It begins on October 31 with the arrival of the souls of the children or Chichán Pixán, to whom the first altar containing sweets and some toys is dedicated. November 1 is dedicated to the deceased adults or Nohoch Pixán, to whom their favorite foods and habits such as cigarettes, their favorite soft drink, etc. are offered at the altar. All this accompanied by flowers and the images of the relatives and their candles to guide their course. And finally on November 2 the altar is dedicated to all souls, those who have no one to remember them.
Pomuch and the cleaning of the Holy Remains
The community of Pomuch, municipality of Hecelchakán to the north of the capital, observes very particular traditions for the dates of Hanal Pixán. Some days prior to the arrival of their deceased, their relatives attend the cemetery to dust off and wash the skeletal remains of their deceased, which are deposited in small boxes inside ossuaries to which the embroidered mantle that surrounds them is also changed, representing the change of clothes.
This tradition known in the Mayan language as Kesh Lu Noc or Chuch Ba’ac represents the physical perseverance of the ancestors and the affection professed by their relatives where death does not represent a total absence, but rather the transition to a different plane.
Although tradition says that the souls will remain until the eighth day or Bix, the altars and many elements of the offering will remain until the last day of November, when the month of the dead ends.
Calendar of festivities in CAMPECHE
May 20th. Jipi Fair.
15 th of May. Fair and patron saint festival of San Isidro Labrador.
October 5th. Festivity of the Christ of Mercy: processions, Dance of the Pig’s Head, music and fireworks.
June 24. Feast of San Juan. Boat ride along the boardwalk with the image of the saint.
September 14. Fiesta de San Román: great fair, procession with the Christ of San Román, dances and fireworks.
February 2. fair, dances, processions and fireworks.
The most important are those celebrated in Calkiní, Campeche, Ciudad del Carmen, Hecelchakán, Hopelchén and Tenabo.
Ciudad del Carmen
July 16th. Festivity of the Virgen del Carmen: dances, fair, processions and fireworks.
August 15th. Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin: dances and processions.
November 1 and 2. Day of the Dead: altars, offerings and visits to the cemetery; Farewell to the souls on October 31.
May 3. Festival of the Holy Cross: Dance of the Pig’s Head.
August 15. Fair of the population: music and dairy farms.
August 8 to 15. Festivity of the Virgen de la Asunción: processions, dances, fair and the “carrying of the candle” to the temple.
Handicrafts in CAMPECHE
Becal, Santa Cruz Hacienda, San Nicolás and Tankuché
Jipi crafts (a type of fiber). Manufacture of hats of this fiber and various objects for personal and ornamental use.
Rugs and objects woven with vegetable fibers.
Champoton, Escárcega and Campeche
Ornamental wooden objects.
Santa Cruz Pueblo, San Antonio, Sahcabchen, Concepción, Pucnachen, Koben
Ornamental objects made from sea shells.
Ornamental objects made with bull horn.
Tenabo, Hecelchakán and Calkiní
Colorful machine embroidery and cross stitch. Huipiles, dresses and blouses.
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