Sunday, May 30, 2010

MEXICO - La Guelaguetza in Oaxaca

MEXICO stamp

Location of OAXACA in MEXICO

The Guelaguetza, or Los lunes del cerro (Mondays of the Hill) is an annual cultural celebration that is most well known outside the state of Oaxaca and outside Mexico as taking place in the city of Oaxaca, capital of the state of Oaxaca in Mexico. In fact the celebration also takes place in town centers all over the state of Oaxaca at about the same time. The celebration involves parades complete with walking bands and the marketing of food, statewide artisanal production, and souvenirs, but centers on dancing in costume in groups, often groups of only one sex. Each costume and dance usually has a local historical and cultural meaning. Although the celebration is an important tourist attraction, especially in the capital city of Oaxaca, it also retains significant independent cultural importance for the people of the state.

Oaxaca has a large indigenous population, 40 percent, compared to 15 percent for Mexico as a whole. Indigenous culture in the state remains strong in its own right, with over 300,000 people in the state who are monolingual in indigenous languages. Unlike the Yucatán, where the indigenous culture consists of closely related groups of Mayans, the indigenous people in Oaxaca are from many different cultures speaking mutually unintelligible languages. The celebration dates back to pre-Columbian times and remains a defining characteristic of Oaxacan culture. Its origins come from celebrations related to the worship of corn. Communities from within the state of Oaxaca gather to present their regional culture in the form of music, costumes, dances, and food. It is the most famous event of its kind in Mexico.

Like many pre-Columbian traditions in Mexico, this festival was adapted to Catholic traditions after the conquest. The sacrifice of a virgin slave girl was eliminated, and the Guelaguetza became a celebration in honor of the Virgin del Carmen. After a terrible earthquake in the 1920s that destroyed most of the city, the festival was re-organized as a statewide cultural event to rebuild the morale of the people. It began to take on a more modern form as a display of each region's unique dance, and became more of a show than a spontaneous festival. In the 1970s a stadium dedicated to the festival was built on a prominent place on Fortin Hill in the center of the city. Foreign and national tourism became increasingly popular when Oaxaca became a UNESCO world heritage city in 1987 and when a modern limited access highway was built into the city in November 1994. Before the highway, transportation was so slow that it was virtually impossible to go to Oaxaca from Mexico City for a weekend trip.

The celebration takes place on consecutive Mondays at the end of July in towns around the state and in the capital city's open-air amphitheater built into the "Cerro del Fortín", a hill that overlooks central Oaxaca. The word Guelaguetza comes from the Zapotec language and means "reciprocal exchanges of gifts and services".


Postcard sent by Julia , as "JulesRules"
Private swap - Reference MX004

Le Guelaguetza

Del 1 al 24 de Julio, la ciudad de Oaxaca se viste de gala
con danzas, bailes, musica y un gran colorido

From 1st to 24th of July,
the festivities take place every year in the city
of Oaxaca with beautiful dances, music and folkloric activities.

Muchas gracias

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