Day Of The Dead in Oaxaca

The Guelaguetza is a festivity that takes place in the city of Oaxaca de Juárez. Also known as Lunes del Cerro (Monday on the Hill), because it is celebrated in the Cerro del Fortin. Guelaguetza has a Zapotec origin, the word means “reciprocal exchanges of gifts and services.

“Lunes del Cerro” is held on the last two Mondays following July 16; an event in which everyone is involved, without social distinction. During this festival, you can see the interpretation of the main traditional folk dancers representing the eight regions of the state.

The Guelaguetza Show

Gastronomic, artisan and sports exhibitions, traditional representations of the most diverse communities in the state, as well as exhibitions, concerts and all kinds of events that disseminate the culture and sport of Oaxaca are some of the events to take place as part of the "Julio, Guelaguetza Month ”.

The origin of the festivities

Apparently, this festival has its origin in colonial times and is related to the so-called Corpus Christi festival of the Iglesia del Carmen Alto, a temple that the Carmelites built on the slopes of a hill that the Zapotecs had called Bella Vista, and it was celebrated on the Sunday following July 16 and was repeated eight days later in the so-called "eighth."

To these festivities, the enthusiasm of the indigenous residents in the towns that surrounded the city was soon added, particularly those of "Guaxaca", which was the capital of the Marquesado del Valle granted to Hernán Cortés by the King of Spain, and the Xochimilco, that had been founded in 1521, by orders of the own Hernán Cortés, to the north of the mentioned city. They maintained their own traditions, according to which they celebrated a festival dedicated to Centéotl, goddess of sweet corn or corn, to whom they made great honors and offerings.

The inevitable interrelation between the groups and the efforts of the evangelizers to make the imposition of Catholic rites acceptable, made possible the promotion of a cult in which elements of the indigenous tradition were incorporated, making external liturgical acts more festive and spectacular. from the moment that Indians, blacks and Spaniards began to live together more intensely.

The Guelaguetza Show

The Corpus Christi festivals

The Corpus Christi festivals faithfully followed the Spanish tradition and were celebrated as part of the ritual of the Catholic temples in the city, then called Antequera. The ritual cycle was carried out following an annual calendar and consisted of bringing out in procession the images of the patron saints who were the owners of their respective temples to travel with them through the neighborhood corresponding to their patronage.

The figure of the patron saint was accompanied by a monstrance with the Corpus, a fact that gave the celebrations its generic name. The Corpus Christi temple was celebrated on the Sunday after July 16, the date indicated by the liturgical calendar for the feast of the Virgen del Carmen.

The coincidence between both festivals, the indigenous and the Spanish, facilitated the syncretism that gave rise to the Cerro Mondays festivities, in which the Oaxacan tradition is still preserved with great enthusiasm, which, moreover, is clearly related with the popular belief that Mondays are auspicious days for festive rites.

The Guelaguetza Show

Parade of the Delegations

Other folkloric shows have recently been incorporated into the Guelaguetza festivals, much to the delight of the public. One example is the delegation parade, which is organized according to the traditional calendar, and takes place the Saturday before each Monday. A large round lantern covered in material called la Marmota leads the parade, followed by the giants and the China Oaxaqueña, women from the city carrying baskets overflowing with beautiful flowers, accompanied by a musical band and the joyful fireworks masters. The rest of the delegations follow the procession, each one preceded by traditional music from its region.

In the course of the morning of that same Saturday, a contest is held in the historical center, which delights the audience: a representative of the god Centéotl is chosen, who will preside over the festivities, and who, for this honor, will be accompanied by 7 women who represent the chosen one’s region. The participants do not compete in a beauty contest per say, despite dressing proudly and sumptuously in their regional dress and displaying their great beauty. The worthy representative of the “god of sweet corn” shall be the one who best represents their region and who is most familiar with their traditions.

The Guelaguetza Show