So you’ve probably heard me say this before, but Mexican’s do not shy away from a fiesta or two, and certainly in Oaxaca there are times when it feels like every day is the fiesta of something or other. It is not uncommon at all to be shaken out of bed at 6am by fireworks that are so strong they set off car alarms. I have grown more used to them, but there are times when they still make me jump out of my skin.
The thing that becomes apparent when you have lived here for a while is that everybody seems to have a special fiesta day. Mother’s day is celebrated so intensely that mothers are given presents by colleagues and friends and many are given a day off work. One father’s day I was on a bus that stopped so that the driver could shout out congratulations to a passing friend on his special day. Children have a day, grandparents have a day, animals have a day and even the dead have a day.
There are also special days dedicated to people of different professions, doctors, lawyers, teachers etc. Every year on 12th November, you will get a little knock on the door from your postman. It is postman day, and that means you give the postman money to show your appreciation. This made me laugh last year when I had been waiting 8 weeks for a package to arrive. I had to remind myself it wasn’t really the postman’s fault, as I somewhat reluctantly handed over the cash.
The construction workers (albañiles) have their day too, which coincides with the Day of the Holy Cross. Decorative crosses are placed on construction sites and the sites become party town, with music and drinking and dancing. Last year when a big new flyover was being constructed I saw a catholic mass taking place underneath the semi constructed road, as bulldozers and cars went past all around them.
The craziest experience of a celebration though, has to be a few months back when it was the day of the rescue workers. They decided it would be a wonderful idea to drive around the city with their sirens going. Being entirely unaware that these workers were celebrating their ‘day’ I rushed home thinking the city was under siege or something. I have a lot of respect for people in those professions, especially with the current situation in Mexico and on the day we remember the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, but really, whose bright idea was it to use their day to scare all the citizens of Oaxaca?
Susannah Rigg is a freelance writer and Mexico specialist. Her work has been featured in Condé Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, BBC Travel, The Independent UK, Afar and The New Worlder among others. Check out her portfolio here. Contact Susannah by email, info [at] mexicoretold [dot] com and join her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.