What Is a Mexican Fiesta?

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During fiestas, the towns of Mexico are decorated.
During fiestas, the towns of Mexico are decorated. (Image: fiesta decoration image by kubais from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

"Fiesta" is the Spanish word for festival or holiday. Mexico has several different kinds of festivals, celebrated for religious, national and local reasons. The type of celebration varies with the kind of festival. Generally, there is a party at the end of the celebration, and it is accompanied by traditional Mexican music.

Location and History

Mexico was originally inhabited by native Americans, and their descendants constitute a large part of the country's population today. Mexico was a Spanish colony from the early 16th century to independence in 1821. During the 10-year independence war, and subsequent uprisings and revolutions, a popular democracy was established. Mexico celebrates a number of national holidays commemorating events from the liberation from Spain and subsequent national foundation events.

National Statuatory Holidays

The national holidays are either statutory holidays, when workers are given automatic leave, or civic holidays. The statutory holidays mostly celebrate events relating to the founding of the nation, such as the promulgation of the new constitutions in 1857 and 1917. Independence Day on Sept. 16 and Revolution Day on Nov. 20 are also statutory holidays, as is Dec. 25, which is both a secular and religious holiday in Mexico.

Civic Holidays

The civic holidays are related to civic events, such as the Army Day, Flag Day, Anniversary of Oil Exploration and Heroic Defence of Veracruz day, which celebrates the victory over the United States. Cinco de Mayo (May 5), which celebrates the victory against the French occupation forces in 1862, is not a major holiday. Many cities and Mexican states also celebrate their own civic holidays.

Religious Festivals

The Mexican religious calendar celebrates a number of Catholic holidays. Most cities have their own patron saint, who is celebrated with a festival. In particular, Epiphany, Day of the Dead (all saints day), Christmas and Holy Week (Easter) are celebrated. The Mexican patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe, is celebrated on Dec. 12. Many religious celebrations are colored by the folk traditions of the native Americans.

Celebrating Festivals

Festivals in Mexico, both religious, national and local are celebrated with parades, dancing and music. The civic festivals are often celebrated with fireworks, in particular those related to events like the foundation of the city or the promulgation of the constitution. The religious holidays are also celebrated by street processions, called posadas, which intend to commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. Carnival is celebrated in February and March, with processions, masquerades and street parties. Religious as well as civic holidays are celebrated with a festive family dinner. Music and dancing are integral parts of the celebrations.

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