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El Dia de los Locos
by Gordon Jett
Gordon Jett and his wife
Betty have lived in San Miguel for seven years. Gordon is a regular contributor
San Miguel de Allende is
said to have more fiestas and parades than anywhere else in Mexico. When there
is a period on the calendar with no celebrations, they make one up. So it is
with El Dia de los Locos, Day of the Crazies, held each year in mid-June.
In the 17th and
18th centuries Catholic priests introduced San Pascual Bailon as the
patron saint of field workers and kitchen workers. The newly converted Mexicans
celebrated his “day” on May 17 by decorating themselves with tools and other
symbols of their labor and dancing to the sounds of pagan flutes and drums.
To keep the paraders and
observers separated, some paraders were dressed as scarecrows and their
characteristic movements were described as “loco,” i.e., crazy. Somewhere
along the way, paraders dressed as clowns replaced the field and kitchen
workers, though the music and the dances stayed the same.
San Antonio de Padua’s day
was celebrated on June 13th and it had its own dances. But the dances
of San Pascual Bailon were so popular that they were also used for San
Antonio’s celebration. Gradually the two celebrations melded and are now
celebrated as one on the first Sunday following June 13.
groups or groups of workers join together to make elaborate special costumes.
Some ride on the back of trucks decorated as floats and some march the route.
Almost all have bands or recorded music which competes in a glorious cacophony
that is so characteristic of Mexico. Early on, the marchers handed out pears to
the people along the parade route, but now each group throws candy into the
crowd, causing even more noisy mayhem.
Day of the Crazies is Mexico
at its best – happy families making noise in a blend of religious and pagan
celebrations. Just one of the reasons San Miguel is now in the top ten of
tourist destinations worldwide!