The Best Celebrations on the Oaxacan Riviera: You told Us!

By Marcia and Jan Chaiken

While the festivities of Semana Santa were still ringing in our ears, we asked you to give your opinions about the best celebrations on the Oaxacan Riviera. Several, who keep abreast of events by reading the online Huatulco Eye while chilling out in Canada or the U.S,.were frustrated that they knew so little about most Mexican holidays. Said one reader, “unfortunately, our experiences in Mexico so far are so limited that I wasn’t even aware of most of all the listed celebrations. Now we know for sure that we are just going to have to {spend more time in Huatulco.}.” To which we say “come on down” and experience the following celebrations our readers say are the best.

Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) was nominated as the best religious holiday celebration by almost half (48%) of respondents followed by Christmas (22%). Even though Semana Santa had recently come and gone, just 19% said it was the best. Perhaps enthusiasm was dampened by the long lines and depleted shelves at Super Che.

Independence Day (September 16) was noted as the best secular national holiday by over one-third (37%) of reader respondents. These readers may have been among the hundreds of people who turn out in Huatulco to hear the traditional Grito–“Mexicanos, que Viva México!” and to loudly reply, “Viva!”

New Year’s Day was the runner up with 22% and an additional 15% enjoy Benito Juarez’s Birthday the most. For the best other celebration in the State of Oaxaca, 40% opinioned it is the January 1 observance of sunrise on Chahue Beach. For those of us who live on Chahue Beach, the spectacle of glamorously dressed party-goers staggering down to join the families who have camped out overnight is as interesting as the new year’s sunrise. Other bests mentioned by a significant number of people were the Night of the Radishes in Oaxaca City (21%) and the First Friday of Lent fiesta in Santa Cruz Huatulco (also 21%).

Tamales for Candlemas were designated by almost half of our reader (48%) as the best traditional holiday food on the Oaxacan Coast. Rosca de Reyes and Pan de Muerto for Day of the Dead tied for a distant second place, with 16% of respondents voting for one or the other.

The best type of family celebration according to 40% of our reader respondents is Quincenera celebrations (Sweet Fifteens) followed by weddings – nominated by slightly over one-third (36%).

Finally, we asked our readers what they liked best about celebrations in Mexico. The modal response was the food– mentioned by 36% of respondents– followed by music–noted by an additional 20%. Even dances (12%) outranked drinking (8%).

So, if you think of fiestas on the Oaxacan Riviera as times for margaritas and the best holiday as Cinco de Mayo, perhaps you need to spend more time absorbing the culture on the Oaxacan Riviera. Who knows? You may wind up living here!

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