Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Carnival In Mexico


Carnival is celebrated throughout the world during the week prior to Ash Wednesday and since Mexico is a largely Catholic country it’s a pretty big deal here. However, celebrations vary radically depending on your location. For example, Patzcuaro is a major destination for tourists wanting to experience Day of the Dead, but Carnival is almost completely overlooked there. For the last week my neighbourhood here in San Miguel has been alive with cohetes and noise makers, New Year’s Eve revisited. The cities with the largest and most elaborate celebrations are Vera Cruz and Mazatlan, but not to be outdone, San Miguel de Allende makes a pretty good effort to compete.


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Mojigangas, Giant Paper Mache Figures


These celebrations are a festival of the libido meant to get all the debauchery out of people's systems before the abstinence of Lent begins. The word Carnival actually comes from Latin, meaning “to take away” or “goodbye to meat”, and many devout Catholics will refrain from eating meat for the upcoming 40 days of Lent.

The events usually begin with the Quema del Mal Humor or The Burning of Bad Humor which is the burning in effigy of an unpopular political figure, or in some places a Satanic figure. After this the King and Queen of Carnival are crowned, beginning a week long string of festivities.There is music, food, dancing and, of course, parades and fireworks. Mojigangas, huge paper mache figures, put in an appearance in many parades here, but none are quite as festive, and often risqué, as those used in the Carnival parades.

El Jardin, San Miguel’s main plaza, is alive with colour during this time. The vendors sell all the trappings of Carnival and the kids chase bubbles and strew colourful confetti among the benches and trees. Prior to Carnival the mercados fill with eggs, emptied of their gloppy innards and filled with confetti, and during Carnival Week children throughout the city lob these at each other, leaving a trail of confetti on their clothes, in their hair and on the streets.


IMGP1283 Bubbles in El Jardin


The celebrations culminate on the "Martes de Carnaval", or Mardi Gras, the French term meaning Fat Tuesday. One last blow-out party ending with the burning of another effigy, “Juan Carnaval”, which is representative of all the indulgence and carnal revelry of the past week. This act puts an end to the wantonness of Carnival and begins the abstinence of Lent. The following morning is Ash Wednesday, when the people of San Miguel will go to church and receive ashes, after which Lent will begin.




  1. We skipped Carnival this year and watched the parade the first day live on TV. lol how lazy is that?

    Here in Guaymas they are always saying that the carnival here is the oldest one, not the biggest; but the oldest. I have never done the research to verify that though, so quien sabe?

    Until I moved to Mexico I had always thought that carnaval was a festival held in the sea side areas. I was very surprised to read about all the ones held inland. Just shows how much I didn't know.

    Have a great Valentines Day and make sure Todd doesn't stock up too much on that farmacia special that he wrote about lol lol.

    1. Because I have spent most of my time in Mexico in Patzcuaro, I thought that Carnival was really a thing of the port towns too, Brenda. It was fun to see all the partying here.

      I THINK Todd just took pictures at the farmacia, LOL. You two have a nice Valentines Day too.

  2. No carnival for us until next week. Too much competition with Manzanillo.

    1. Do they actually postpone it for a week? How does that work?

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  4. Sos sorry about the spelling!! Yikes

  5. I think I'll quick while I'm I obviously, can't get my fingers on the right keys...j

  6. LOL, we all have days like that Judy!