TRADITIONS OF JALISCO

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Traditions and Festivities in JALISCO

Guadalajara is full of surprises. A cosmopolitan metropolis modern, but authentic and traditional at the same time. Many of things which are typically associated with Mexico have their origins in Jalisco. These include rodeos called charreadas, mariachis, and of course the tequila.

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TRADITIONS

Charrería

Charrería
Charrería

When the Spanish first settled in colonial Mexico had very large cattle-raising estates and soon the indigenous people known as “vaqueros” became excellent horsemen. Smaller landholders, known as rancheros or ranchers, were the first genuine “charros” and they are credited as the inventors of the charreada.

The charro’s elaborate costume and trappings reflect the merging of three distinct cultures that create the Mexican cowboy: Arabian, Spanish and indigenous American. Gentleman cowboys adorned their trousers with silver buttons down the heavily embroidered outside seams.

The short jackets and wide-brim, cone-shaped hats were trimmed in a likewise fashion. Today it has become a national sport a multi-colored spectacle. The charreadas consist of various events demostrating the skill of the rider in roping, handling of his horse, lassoing, or controlling a bull or a wild bronco.

For the women there are a precision equestrian even called the “scaramuza” with the participants dressed as “Adelitas” or women of the revolution.”

Mariachi

It has become synonymous of joy, music and party. The mariachi costume is famous worldwide. Traditional mariachi include guitars the “vihuela”, a high-pitched, round-backed guitar which provides rhythm, and a bass guitar called a “guitarrón”, violins and trumpets.

Mariachi
Mariachi

The mariachis use the charro outfit, usually in black with silver-colored buttons and chains running down their pants legs and up their vests, and with the unmistakable large Mariachi hat.

Although there is still much controversy, it seems that this type of musical ensembles were originated in north of the state, in the region of Los Altos de Jalisco. Most legends put the origin of the modern mariachi in the town of Cocula.

The word mariachi was thought to have derived from the French word “mariage” (marriage) dating from the French Intervention in Mexico in the 1860s.

The origin of the word is still in dispute but most of the prominent theories state that it has indigenous roots. In Guadalajara, you may see them playing in a restaurant or bar, or in the traditional Mariachi Plaza, and of course in the famous Parian in Tlaquepaque.

Tequila

It is a distilled beverage made from blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the Magic Town of Tequila. It is the most popular and representative beverage of Mexico in the world. The name tequila is a controlled denomination of origin, recognized internationally.

Tequila is usually bottled in one of five categories:

  • Blanco (“white”) also known as “silver”, un-aged and bottled or stored immediately after distillation.
  • Reposado (“rested”), aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels. It is softer than white, has a golden color and its flavor has a hint of oak.
  • Añejo (“aged” or “vintage”), aged a minimum of one year, but less than three years in small white oak barrels. The color ranges from gold to dark amber strong, its taste is strongly impregnated with wood. If it has been aged for at least three years, can be considered Extra Añejo (“extra aged” or “ultra aged”).

The agave landscape and the ancient industrial facilities of Tequila have now been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

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FESTIVITIES

International Mariachi Fair

This annual festival captures the essence of the city. Performances take place on the streets of downtown and in various venues throughout the city. Mariachi bands from all over the world participate, coming from countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, Belgium, Chile, France, Canada and United States. The inaugural parade has become an icon of the city, spectators will be able to see all of the participating mariachi groups as well as floats, folkloric ballet troupes and representatives from a variety of both local and national Charro groups.

Romería
Romería
Romería de la Catedral Metropolitana a la Basílica de Zapopan (Pilgrimage from the Metropolitan Cathedral to the Basilica of Zapopan)

An annual procession honoring Our Lady of Zapopan celebrates the feast day of the Virgin of Zapopan on October 12th. Around dawn, pre-Columbian dancers, mendicants, priest and seminarians carries her small, dark figure, and begins the 5-hour ride from the Cathedral of Guadalajara to the Basilica of Zapopan along with thousands of pilgrims. The event ends with traditional dances and evening. During the months leading up to the feast day, the figure visits churches all over the city. You will likely see neighborhoods decorated with paper streamers and banners honoring the Virgin’s visit to the local church.

Anniversary of the City

February 14th, a number of festivities commemorate the founding of Guadalajara in 1542. Open-air concerts, live music and a marathon race are just some of the attractions on offer around the City Hall, Plaza Guadalajara, Plaza Fundadores, and the Rotonda de los Hombres Ilustres (Rotunda of Illustrious Men), and also the university campus.

May Cultural Festival

The event is driven by Jalisco’s Secretary of Culture and will take place at many locations in the state of Jalisco, including many in Guadalajara’s Degollado Theater. This festival includes cultural events such as concerts, exhibits, film screenings, dance performances and gastronomic tastings. Since 2003, this event exhibits the cultures of other countries, like Hungary, Poland, Austria, Spain, Mexico, Germany and Japan, among others.

Octoberfest

A month-long event from the first Saturday in October to the first Sunday of November. Events take place in the Benito Juarez Auditorium and across different locations of Guadalajara, Zapopan, Tlaquepaque, Tonala and Tlajomulco. The festival features live music, plenty of dancing, endless food, exhibitions of art works, carnivals, markets with over 700 vendors, street entertainment and a number of free events. The event started with the traditional parade of floats along Avenida 16 de Septiembre.

Guadalajara International Book Fair

It is the most important publishing gathering in Ibero-America. It is also an amazing cultural festival. For nine days, people willingly stand in long lines to listen to their favorite authors, the city is filled with the music, arts, cinema and theatre from the featured country or region Guest of Honor. It takes place every year starting the last Saturday in November.

The Guadalajara International Book Fair was born in 1987 at the initiative of the University of Guadalajara. Each year the number of national and foreign participants grows substantially, public interest increases and activities multiply.

The main publishing houses of Mexico and other countries of the world participate in the fair. Until now, the United States, Spain, Canada and some Latin American countries have participated.

Guadalajara International Book Fair
Guadalajara International Book Fair

In addition to the book exhibition, activities such as conferences, seminars, book presentations and awards are held. A substantial part of the Fair concentrates on activities for book professionals. Commercial and university publishers, librarians, distributors, booksellers, educators, literary agents exchange information, carry out transactions and analyze the immediate future of the publishing, video and other related technologies industry.

Between 1992 and 1993, among editors, buyers, librarians, literary agents and writers, 640 professionals from Latin America participated. A contingent of 428 participated from the United States and Canada, 168 from Spain and 69 from other countries.

The Fair is constituted as a market for large commercial exchanges between those responsible for the cultural industry linked to books and other forms of communication.

An International Congress of Social Sciences is organized in which intellectuals participate with presentations on various topics.  Among the activities offered at the Fair, there is also a place for athletes and “sports communicators”.

Within the Fair there is a space reserved for young people, where activities are developed that aim to respond to the needs and concerns of this sector of the population.

An important area of the Fair is dedicated to video. In the so-called VideoFilvideo, producers and filmmakers of this medium from all over Latin America are summoned. Two prizes are awarded at the Fair: the Fil of Literature in Romance Languages [previously called the Juan Rulfo Prize for Latin American and Caribbean Literature] and the Fernando Benítez Prize for Cultural Journalism.

In the 1994 edition, the Fair was inaugurated by Octavio Paz, who was honored for his career. Tribute was also paid to the publishing house Fondo de Cultura Económica (fce) for its 60 years of existence.

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