Tag Archives: History & Traditions

Rising above Their Role: Women and the War of Independence

By Deborah Van Hoewyk

Mexico is macho, right? Machismo is matched with Marianismo (courtesy of the Catholic Church, every woman represents the pure and nurturing Mary), right? Except for the Tehuanas of the Isthmus, women take a back seat in Mexico, right?

Actually, not so much. The seeds of Mexican feminism were sown by women who fought—literally—in the country’s revolutions: The War of Independence (1810-21) and, a century later, the Mexican Revolution (1910-20). Continue reading Rising above Their Role: Women and the War of Independence

Día de los Reyes Celebration

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-6-57-45-pmBy Thomas Ahlbrandt

On Friday, January 6th owners of Cosmo Residences hosted a Día de los Reyes party for the Cosmo staff and their families.   This celebrates the traditional Mexican day when children receive gifts from the Three Wise Men (or Magi). The festivities were held on the beach at Cosmo and attended by Cosmo owners, the staff and 25 of their children ranging in age from babies to 12 years old. Actors portraying Superman and Elsa from Frozen presided over the event. Tacos, pizza and the traditional rosca de reyes (kings’ cake) were served; a local disc jockey played popular tunes while the piñatas were smashed. The highlight of the afternoon, of course, was the gifts for all the children. The event was held to celebrate the children and give the owners the opportunity to express their appreciation for their excellent staff. Those who attended concluded it was great fun and it will become annual event. Continue reading Día de los Reyes Celebration

Pre-Hispanic Dogs in Mexican Culture

2017-jan-pics-2016-12-22-at-7-47-24-amBy Julie Etra

Dogs have been a part of Mexican culture for centuries, and I am not talking about perros callejeros, or street dogs. They came along with the first human beings during their migration to the western hemisphere from Asia, so yes, they were already here when the Spaniards arrived. And these migrant settlers bred their dogs and developed unique lineages with unique traits. Few of these breeds survive to the present time, just the Xolo described below, and the Chihuahua. DNA studies conducted on dog fossils by paleozoologist Valadez Azúa verified their common origin with the ancient dogs of Eurasia. However, the fossil remains found in America have variations in their genetic material produced by the geographic isolation of the continents. Continue reading Pre-Hispanic Dogs in Mexican Culture

Out-of-the-Way Archeological Sites

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-10-17-33-amBy Jan Chaiken and Marcia Chaiken

When we first started to explore the major archeological sites of Mexico such as Uxmal, Tulum, Chichen Itza and Palenque, each visit was an adventurous trip to an out-of-the-way destination. Few people were willing to chance the rough roads and limited places to stay. So the ruins were pretty much free of other tourists and we could explore to our hearts’ content. Today tour buses ply splendid highways bringing hundreds of tourists to the many hotels that surround the ruins, and tour guides lead crowds of people hurriedly through well-guarded sites. Continue reading Out-of-the-Way Archeological Sites

Black Pottery… A Modern Folk Art

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-5-44-41-pmBy Brooke Gazer

If you have been to any Mexican craft market, it is likely that you noticed many examples of Barro Negro (Black Pottery), for which Oaxaca is famous. In spite of its overwhelming popularity, this is a relatively new medium of Mexican folk art. For over 2000 years, the village of San Bartolo Coyotepec produced very basic utilitarian pottery. These sturdy vessels, which were used to carry water, oil, or mescal, were rustic with a matte grey appearance. In the early 1950’s a petite Zapotec woman, named Rosa Real Mateo de Nieto, altered the way her people handled clay, and subsequently the economy of her village. She is now fondly known by the honorific name of Doñs Rosa. Continue reading Black Pottery… A Modern Folk Art

El Maestro de Los Monos

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-5-45-19-pmBy Geri Anderson with photographer/translator Marcus Wilkinson

If you’ve ever wandered through Oaxaca City’s Jalatlaco neighborhood to the corner of Niños Heroes de Chapultepec and Calle Aldama, you’ve probably noticed José Octavio Azcona y Juárez, Mexico’s foremost monero (puppet maker) working in his shop, creating monos de calendas (huge dancing puppets). Until retirement three years ago, he might have been changing a tire on a semi-trailer truck right there on the Pan American highway! That was his life’s work for 30 years, that AND making monos, which are sometimes called gigantes because they truly are gigantic creations. Continue reading El Maestro de Los Monos

Beyond the Artist: The Cult of Frida Kahlo

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-5-45-57-pmBy Marcia Chaiken and Jan Chaiken

Frida Kahlo never shied away from publicity. Well before her death at age 47 in 1954 she was well known in Mexico City for her flamboyant style of dress, her tumultuous marriages to Diego Rivera, and her open affairs with both women and men of note, including Leon Trotsky. However, she currently has an international iconic status that did not start to blossom until almost 30 years after she died. Continue reading Beyond the Artist: The Cult of Frida Kahlo

Oaxaca’s “Vintage” Chango Mezcalero (Clay Monkey) Mezcal Bottles

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 8.53.39 AMBy Alvin Starkman, M.A., J.D.

For a half century if not longer, the central valleys of the state of Oaxaca have been known in the US, Canada and further abroad for production of the high-alcohol-content, agave-based spirit, mezcal. The region’s pre-Hispanic ruins, colonial architecture, cuisine and craft villages have been noted in travelogues and guide books for some time. More recently even beach lovers visiting Huatulco and Puerto Escondido have elected to take in a bit of culture by spending a couple of days in the state capital. The iconic Mexican drink has now taken center stage, and hence the arrival of mezcal tourism. It has gripped Oaxaca; and along with it has come a revival of the chango mezcalero. Continue reading Oaxaca’s “Vintage” Chango Mezcalero (Clay Monkey) Mezcal Bottles

Eternal Life in Guanajuato

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 8.52.37 AMBy Leigh Morrow

Perhaps the most unusual museum in Mexico is The Museo de las Momias in Guanajuato, the capital in the state of the same name. This former silver mining town with stunning examples of baroque and neoclassical architecture is a world heritage site. However, the museum here has nothing to do with the beauty found above ground. The fascinating origin of Las Momias, dates back to the mid 1800s, 1833 to be precise. A cholera epidemic was sweeping through the area, and the town, in an effort to slow the spread of the deadly disease, quickly buried those who had succumbed to the illness. The rapid burials may have led to at least one person accidentally being buried alive. Ignacia Aquilar may have suffered this fate. She had a rare disease that on occasion made her heart beat so faint, it was perceived to have stopped. Thinking she had died, poor Ignacia was buried. But was she still alive? Continue reading Eternal Life in Guanajuato