Here in Merida, on January 5th and 6th the whole community joins in festivities to celebrate the birthday of a new city. Merida used to be a Mayan city, but when the Spanish (“El Mozo” Montejo) came they established it as a new city in 1542. For these two days of celebration the main square and some shops close.
Around 6pm we left our home and decided to check out what would be in store. We grabbed a bite to eat and headed for the square. We made it in time to see a Mayan performance of dance. Then we followed the crowd around the square and realized that stations had been set up around the square and 2 others squares for dances, singing, and celebrations. It was amazing seeing the men dressed in typical Mexican clothing from the past and seeing the traditional dresses the women wear that are common still today.
At each station different dances would be performed in couples. Everyone danced in unity, with castanets in their hands and bandanas around their necks or waving in the air. I felt the best dance was a dance where a pole is placed in the middle of the floor with ribbons all in different colors. Each couple gets a color and then they dance around the pole going back and forth making designs and patters with the ribbons. Its amazing. It seems that there was no room to mess up a step or the whole dance would be ruined. Also they danced with trays on their heads with glasses filled with, what I assumed was water, but could easily been some sort of alcohol. Then when they began to spin around, the glasses moved to the edge and began tipping slightly and spraying out. They danced with perfect balance and no one dropped anything.
After, everyone moved to the streets were several large bands were standing. Everyone gathered around the sides and back. As the music began we all started to walk towards the square. It was beautiful to be sharing this moment with the local people as they sang and held candles and honored their past. We arrived at a stage in the main square where about 40 guitarists and singers began to play for the last 20 minutes before midnight. Then the clock struck twelve and fire works went off, right in front of us from the city hall building behind the stage. The family and I really liked it when the fireworks began to stream down like rain from the roof top. It was like it was snowing with fire. It was quite spectacular.
The whole night was an amazing cultural experience that i enjoyed with my family. I loved experiencing the history of this place with all the local people.
Alexandria and Family