A FEAST DAY IN THE COUNTRY – AND THE CITY : Fêting San Antonio in Latin America

San Antonio. La Recoleta Church (Quito, Ecuador). photo © Lorraine Caputo

On this rainy night, the eve of the feast day of San Antonio de Padúa, hundreds of kilometers from Los Crepúsculos, I imagine I hear the strains of his serenade.

¡Ay, mi padre San Antonio

Donde está que no lo veo

Que vine a cantar con él

Y me voy con los deseos!

 

Qué queréis con San Antonio

Que lo ‘tas  llamando tanto

San Antonio  está en el cielo

Junto con los otros santos

 

Señores los bailadores

No se vayan a pegar

Los remedios ‘tan  muy lejos

No hay quien los vaya a buscar

 

Adorar y adorar y adorar a mi padre San Antonio

Adorar y adorar y adorar a mi padre San Antonio

 

Ay, my father San Antonio

Where are you, I don’t see you

I’ve come to sing with him

And I’ll be leaving with my dreams!

 

What is it you want with San Antonio

That you’re calling upon him so much?

San Antonio is in heaven,

Along with the other Saints.

 

It is the eve of the feast day of San Antonio – Saint Anthony of Padua. In the middle of the street of a neighborhood of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, musicians are seated in front of a statue of San Antonio. As they sing their honoring song honoring to this saint, bottles of cocuy (homebrew liquor) are being passed.

This serenade will continue until the wee hours of the morn, when then the all-day procession commences with a mass, and ends with an evening of seven dances…

Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Guápulo (Quito, Ecuador). photo © Lorraine Caputo

 

Even many years after that night in Los Crepúsculos, the serenade sounds through my mind. Every time I encounter a statue of San Antonio – no matter the season – I mouth the words and sway, dancing to this great saint.

 

Iglesia de Sn Antonio (M’burucuyá, Argentina). photo © Lorraine Caputo

The feast day of Saint Anthony of Padua is celebrated on 13 June. San Antonio was born Fernando Martins de Bulhões, in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195. He was contemporary of Saint Francis of Assisi (San Francisco de Asís), founder of the Franciscan order. Saint Anthony became a monk of this order, and was famous for his knowledge of scripture, being able to teach them through simple words and deeds. Thus he holds the title of Doctor of the Church. He died 13 June 1231.

San Antonio is represented by the infant Jesus cradled in one arm. Sometimes he also holds a book or a lily blossom. He is the patron saint of lost causes, lost (or stolen) items, lost people and of the poor. In France, Italy, Spain and his native Portugal, Saint Anthony is the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. In other countries, he is the patron of travelers. On his saint’s day, small loaves of bread are passed out after the mass. This symbolizes San Antonio’s devotion to the marginalized peoples of these lands.

San Antonio is fêted throughout the Americas, from Mexico to Argentina. Today, we shall witness the traditions in two distinct parts of this region: in the deep countryside of Nicaragua, and in the barrios of the city of Barquisimeto, in Venezuela.

 

Iglesia San Francisco (Quito, Ecuador). photo © Lorraine Caputo

 

Many moons ago, when I stayed a mighty spell in Estelí, I was invited to accompany Padre Juan and some of the Rugama family to Terrero, a small settlement in the mountains of northern Nicaragua.

 

A FEAST DAY IN THE COUNTRY

 

Campesinos climb the rocky road

up to the brick chapel

With four guitars & two basses

their song fills the  valley

of these greened hills

Rockets fire into the air

 

In his glass case carried

in two men’s work-worn hands

San Antonio sways

Mothers & children enter the church

Fathers gather outside

smoking cigarettes

talking about crops & cattle

The Saint rests to one side of the altar

in front of the moss-covered apse

studded with plastic-petalled carnations

made by women of this parish

A large cloth-covered basket

of fresh-baked bread

is placed atop him

 

On horseback       on foot

the late arrive

One tethers his mare

to a guanacaste tree

Tattered curtains of Spanish moss

floating the blue-white sun breeze

In the distance two women

comedown the camino

They hold the hands of their children´

a baby in arms

 

Outside Padre Juan confers

with the mass assistants

&the musicians

 

More & more ascend the slope

to the sanctuary

Another rocket rises into the sky

where light clouds move & form swiftly

The white line of its smoke

the pop of its explosion

 

The priest & the choir enter the chapel

Men put their discussions aside

&pack into the back

 

Faces of those unable to fit inside

peer into the open doors & windows

 

Some compadres remain perched

on the scattered lava boulders

cowboy hats, baseball caps on knees

One holds his daughter on his thigh

The bow of her yellow voile dress

flutters in the soft wind

 

As the mass unfolds

with the reading of the scripture

the music

with the sermon

& the testimonies of the community

with the celebration of the Eucharist

More families near the temple

children in hand tottering along

children in arms

Men hastily remove their hats

 

The wafers are placed on tongues

Outside a man lights the fuse

of the rockets with his cigarette

The swooshes       the cracks

of each fill the late morning

 

The last song is being sung

Two women carry the basket of bread

All within & outside this crowded

church are fed

 

Amid cries bounding from one another

¡Viva San Antonio!

                                                ¡Viva!

                  ¡Viva San Antonio!

                                                ¡Viva!

The Saint is carried away

in his glass case

the handles held by those

two sets of work-worn hands

Down the hill

down the winding road

up the next rise

into the distance

Rocket blasts reverberate

throughout the valley

 

published in: Baobab (2000)

 

Iglesia San Francisco (Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos). photo © Lorraine Caputo

 

In further south climes, this popular Saint is also being fêted. One of his largest strong hold is in Venezuela’s state of Lara, where he is the patron saint. The tamunangue music and dances of these celebrations have their roots deep in Africa. It is said to have originated with San Antonio himself, during his missionary work in northern Africa.

My first visit to Venezuela coincided with the fiestas of San Antonio. Friends around the country urged me to get to Barquisimeto, capital of Lara. Yakarí offered to be my guide through the two days of celebrations in the Los Crepúsculos neighborhood. This is home of one of the most traditional troupes, Grupo de Tamunangue Uyama.

The evening of June 12 is the velorio (vigil) to San Antonio, a serenade on the eve of his saint’s day. The next day, mass is said at the parish church in La Unión. The procession then wends through the streets, with dancing and drumming until dusk. At night, the round of dances is performed.

 

A FEAST DAY IN THE CITY

 

  1. El Velorio / Los Crepúsculos

 

The warning rockets are fired

one two three & four

with the butt of a cigarette

 

San Antonio stands in his case

near the door of a house

His wooden capilla

is backdropped by fan-

shaped palm leaves

Two vases of flowers

perch at the front corners

Their carnations scent the evening

a single candle flickers

 

People gather in the cul-de-sac

awaiting this velorio to begin

Many come & touch his head

his back       & then cross themselves

 

The strumming of cuatros

& guitarra marruna

                  begins before this saint

Of a septet standing before him

the strains of Ave María Purísima

A rocket fired

&a second

rocket tras rocket

 

After the song

one troubadour

prays aloud

The standing people repeat

¡Viva San Antonio!

                  ¡Viva San Antonio!

 

Everyone sits in silver

wrought-iron seats set

in a semi-circle before the Saint

Two troubadours in the front row

sing to San Antonio

 

Playing kids roam

young teen women gossip—

their mothers & grandmothers, too

 

Two floodlights brighten

the street, the scenario

 

A brindis of cocuy

is left for San Antonio

& after a coffee break

the serenade continues

More men join with

cuatros, voice and cincos

Between songs more

cocuy is poured

 

A grey-rooted, red haired woman

in a bright green shirt

claps with the music

swaying in rhythm

Her palms redden

song after song

 

These men, their eyes reddening

sing leaning into a compañero

or closes his eyes

They praise San Antonio

la-la-ing with heart & smile

or eyes wide, brows twisted with feeling

 

As the evening grows older

people move the chairs

into tight circles around the music

 

And when the velorio

ends at midnight

The musicians suit their instruments

until the next morn,

San Antonio’s feast

 

 

poem © Lorraine Caputo

 

On San Antonio’s feast day, the biggest celebration is in Barrio La Unión. After the morning mass at the parish church, tamunangueros dance through the streets, carrying the beloved saint from house to house. This procession with its accompanying drumming (and copious amounts of cocuy) continues until dusk. After the sun sets, the seven sones (rhythms) of tamunangue are danced by couples armed with garrotes (sticks).

Yakarí and I spent the day being one with the procession. That night, we returned to Los Crepúsculos. For hours we sat on the blacktop street while he explained the intricacies of each dance.

The tamunangue not only honors San Antonio on his feast day, but it is also performed to fulfill a promise (promesa) to him for granting a good harvest, a family request (for wishes of healing, a new home, studies, etc.) or for love conquered.

The tamunangue consists of the Dedicatorio or Serenade to San Antonio, which includes the Batalla (Battle), performed by two men. This is to ask the Saint for permission to present the dances promised to him.

This is then followed by a round of seven dances performed by couples:

  • El Yiyevamos – The opening dance, with the singer directing the dancers with his calls
  • La Bella – An honoring of women
  • La Juruminga – Based rhythms and forgotten African words
  • La Perrendenga – A dance between woman and man, with garrotes
  • El Poco a PocoThree humorous passes compose this dance
  • El Galerón – The couples dance holding hands
  • El Seis Figurado (Seis Corrido) – Three men and three women dance a total of 32 movements, acting out the picaresque calls of the singer

 

These are just two of the ways San Antonio is fêted in Latin America, in the countryside and in the city, by campesinos and by African descendants. The pueblos of this region wear many other faces, including indigenous. Many roads, there are, yet to wend to continue honoring this saint.

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Recipe Corner : PANCAKES – Sweet & Savory

Whole wheat pancakes topped with fresh fruits (banana, papaya, kiwi, blackberries), soured cream and honey. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Whole wheat pancakes topped with fresh fruits (banana, papaya, kiwi, blackberries), soured cream and honey. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Every continent has their version of pancakes or some sort of flat bread made on a griddle. Russia has blini and blintzes. They may be called injera in the Horn of Africa or cheela in India; okonomiyaki in Japan or bánh xèo in Vietnam. Guaranda (Ecuador) serves up tortillas and Venezuela cachapas. And of course, France has its crêpes and the U.S. its pancakes.

 

The Great Battle : Pancakes v. Crêpes

A great debate arises on either side of the Atlantic. Europeans – especially the French and English – prefer their pan-cakes thin. In Britain’s rebellious former American colonies, a thicker version is preferred. And a great gulf exists between crêpes (the thinner version) and pancakes (the thicker).

Crêpes are paper-thin, soft breads that usually are rolled around fillings. They can be used for sweet dishes – such as Crêpes Suzette – or savory dishes – filled with the likes of sautéed spinach and mushrooms. The recipe is very basic: flour, milk, eggs, butter, and perhaps a touch of sugar for sweet presentations.

North Americans – especially United Statiens – are quite staunch on what a pancake is. After all, they are precisely what the name implies: cakes made in a pan (a skillet or griddle). They are thicker, fluffy and have a cake-like consistency. The essential ingredient is a leavening, baking powder. Regional names are hotcakes, griddlecakes flapjacks and johnnycakes. Traditionally, they are served at breakfast, slathered with butter and topped with maple syrup, powdered sugar, jam or chocolate syrup.

Fluffy, North American pancakes are a popular treat in many countries around the world – even in Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Many Sundays in a Quito hostel, I would whip up a triple batch to share. Other guests would donate fruits for the topping. Recently arrived Japanese guests waited on the sidelines with the hopes of being invited to this treat. The more the merrier!

In an alojamiento in La Paz (Bolivia) one day, several of us from several continents were reminiscing about pancakes. I pulled out my pocket recipe for hotcakes, each of us bought ingredients and I set down to preparing a seven-time batch. Gosh, after the last flapjack hit the plate, many still wanted more. After a run to a neighborhood tienda for more royal, I whipped up another double batch. But by then, everyone was full. We began selling them to other guests to help pay for the gas we had used. (An Argentine said he had no money, but he could trade two glasses of red wine for one. Sure!)

Recently, though, I have been wondering how the traditional North American recipe could be adapted to a savory type of pancake. I pared down my pocket recipe to the essentials (see Basic Savory Pancake Mix below) and began researching variations on the theme. None of them, though, seemed to follow a base recipe.

Thinking of my basic recipe, I let my imagine run wild. What ingredients did I have on hand? What if … and what if … combining my years of knowledge of the sweet version of pancakes. The result is Savory Cornmeal Cakes (see below), which I exclusively present to you today. (I am definitely looking forward to more kitchen experiments!)

 

It’s Pancake Day!

In many places in the U.S., churches and community groups have a pancake day as a fundraiser. Traditional Pancake Day in some Northern European cultures, however, is Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. This Tuesday (called Mardi Gras in French – or Fat Tuesday) is the last day to chow down on delights like flapjacks before the 40 days of Lenten fast begins.

How did pancakes come to be associated with Shrove Tuesday? Like many Christian traditions, it has its origin in indigenous customs. Some food historians believe Pancake Day is based in the Slav festival Maslenitsa of the coming spring, during which a fight between Jarilo (the god of Spring) and evil spirits of Winter’s dark and cold ensued. The most important food was the round, golden, hot pancakes, symbolizing the sun. The first pancake was set out for ancestral spirits. At the end of the week-long festivity, pancakes were tossed on a bonfire as an offering to the gods.

 

Tips

No matter if you are whipping up a batch of pancakes in the kitchen or (as the westward pioneers did) over a campfire, you’ll find the recipe for traditional North American pancakes is very versatile. Any type of flour may be used: wheat, oats, steel-cut oats, cornmeal, buckwheat, rye. Fruits like blueberries or thinly sliced bananas may be tossed into the batter. Spices may also be added.

For savory pancakes, you may add grated or crumbled cheese to the batter. Carnivores might prefer bacon crisps, thin slices of ham or cooked and shredded meats. Thinly sliced or grated vegetables, as well as garlic, chili and herbs can be tossed in.

To help you in your culinary experiments, here are a few tips:

  • If you would like to make cornmeal (polenta), oat or other non-wheat pancake, use ½ cup of wheat flour and half of the other flour. Non-wheat flours are low in gluten, which is necessary in binding the ingredients and resulting in fluffy pancakes.
  • If using dried milk, add 3 – 4 tablespoons in with the dry ingredients. Add water in place of milk.
    • If you are going camping, pack the dry ingredients in an air-tight baggie or container. At your site, just add the egg, oil and water. Voilà! You have fresh pancakes to enjoy in the wilderness!
  • Do not throw out sour milk! You can use it (or even yoghurt) in place of regular milk. Decrease the baking powder to 2 teaspoons and add one teaspoon of baking soda. This helps to set off the acidity of the aged dairy product.
  • If adding banana to the batter, decrease the baking powder to 2 teaspoons and add one teaspoon of baking soda.
  • In many parts of Latin America, baking powder (polvo para hornear) is called Royal.
  • If preparing at high altitude (1,067+ meters / 3,500+ feet a.s.l.), you may need to decrease the amount of baking powder.
  • Add the liquid according to how you want your pancakes: a thicker batter will make thicker ones, and a thinner batter will make thinner, crêpe-like cakes.
  • To check to see if the skillet is hot, sprinkle a drop into it. If it skittles across, you are ready to go! But be sure to turn the fire down, else you’ll end up with burnt cakes.
  • If you would like sour cream atop, but cannot find nata or plain yoghurt, then you can make your own. Add a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice to cream and let stand for 1 hour.

¡Buen provecho!

 

SWEET PANCAKES

1 cup flour (white, whole wheat)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 tablespoons oil

½ – ¾ cup milk

Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, salt) together. Make a well (depression in the center. Add the egg and beat a little. Add oil and milk and mix all ingredients together.

Heat a skillet until hot. Add a teaspoon or two of oil.

When the oil is hot, spoon the batter into the hot skillet to the size you want the pancake to be. When bubbles begin to form around the outer edge, turn the pancake over and cook on the other side until golden brown.

Serve with butter and honey. Fresh fruits atop is another delicious (and healthy!) way to enjoy them.

Savory cornmeal cakes with ricotta cheese crumbles. Served with a papaya-avocado-sweet red pepper salad (dressed simply with limón juice). photo © Lorraine Caputo

Savory cornmeal cakes with ricotta cheese crumbles. Served with a papaya-avocado-sweet red pepper salad (dressed simply with limón juice). photo © Lorraine Caputo

BASIC SAVORY PANCAKE MIX

1 cup flour (white, whole wheat)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 tablespoons oil

½ – ¾ cup milk

Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, salt) together. Make a well (depression in the center. Add the egg and beat a little. Add oil and milk and mix all ingredients together.

Heat a skillet until hot. Add a teaspoon or two of oil.

When the oil is hot, spoon the batter into the hot skillet to the size you want the pancake to be. When bubbles begin to form around the outer edge, turn the pancake over and cook on the other side until golden brown.

 

SAVORY CORNMEAL CAKES

½ cup wheat flour (white or whole wheat)

½ cup corn meal or polenta

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 tablespoons oil

½ – ¾ cup milk

1 chili pepper, finely minced

1 large clove of garlic, finely minced

1 small onion, cut in half and finely sliced

½ cup shredded zucchini

Mix the dry ingredients (flour, corn meal / polenta, baking powder, sugar, salt) together. Make a well (depression in the center). Add the egg and beat a little. Add oil and milk and mix all ingredients together. Stir in the chili, garlic and vegetables.

Heat a skillet until hot. Add a teaspoon or two of oil.

When the oil is hot, spoon the batter into the hot skillet to the size you want the pancake to be. When bubbles begin to form around the outer edge, turn the pancake over and cook on the other side until golden brown.

Serve with grated or crumpled cheese sprinkled over top, if you desire, and a salad.

CARNIVAL SEASON IN SOUTH AMERICA

Carnaval in Santa Marta (Caribbean Coast, Colombia) is a much more down-home affair than in Barranquilla. photo ©Lorraine Caputo

Carnaval in Santa Marta (Caribbean Coast, Colombia) is a much more down-home affair than in Barranquilla. photo ©Lorraine Caputo

It’s been several weeks without dry clothes in this high-altitude city during the rainy season. It hasn’t been because of the daily storms – oh, no.

It is Carnaval.

Every morning, we leave the hostel in Quito’s Centro Histórico and walk to a restaurant on Plaza Santo Domingo for breakfast. On García Moreno, near the Arco de la Reina, a woman sits aside a low, makeshift stand setup. Her wares are water-filled balloons, old IV bottles filled with water, buckets of water. A man hands her some sucres and launches a balloon at a friend awaiting a bus.

As obvious foreigners, we also get doused – both coming and going from breakfast.

We change into dry clothes before heading out to see the sites, like the equator at Mitad del Mundo, and to sing selections from the Sound Of Music in front of the Basilica (and unknowingly disrupting a mass). And of course, during the course of the day, we were inevitably soaked again.

But in this season of afternoon rains, our clothes never seem to dry. And being mochileros (backpackers), we only have three changes of clothes. We are eternally, infernally damp until this party ends with Ash Wednesday, 4 March.

Oh, but we join in the festivities. (Or would it be fairer to say that we sought our revenge?)

One day, Dewy – who had a room with a private bath overlooking the street – bought 200 balloons. A water fight ensued with the neighboring families to the left of the hostel and across the lane. One kid to the left bombed two nuns walking below and perfectly pitched a globo (balloon) through the open door of a bus, hitting the driver. The final outcome: four broken windows for our team and seven for the neighbors.

Another day, a joyous fight broke out between the hostel staff and the guests. Everyone was running from level to level around the interior patio, dumping buckets and lobbing balloons to victims below (or above). Then the owner walked in – and everyone disappeared, leaving behind several centimeters of water pooling in the patio.

Indeed – we had arrived in Ecuador’s capital city right during Carnaval.

We’d come to Quito for the Quest Gang meeting: 29 February at high noon at the main bus station in Quito, Ecuador. So focused on our goal were we that we didn’t even take note of the calendar. Anyways, Carnaval is one of those holidays that no-one really pays attention to, unless you’re from New Orleans or Italy or some other place that host riotous street dancing and music.

But what in the devil was this with all the water?

I bought a bunch of post cards from the kiosks at the backside of the Presidential Palace, and sat down to write thank you notes to friends I stayed with on the trip down through Mexico and Central America:

Dear ____,

I have arrived safely in Quito and in time for the 29 February meeting. Nine of us showed up from five different continents. And – also just in time for Carnaval. Boy, do they have a strange way of celebrating here: with water! It’s like a huge water fight, with people throwing balloons at each other, or dumping buckets of water as you pass by on the street. Insane!

Again, thanks for hosting me when I passed through. Hope to see you as I travel north again in a month or so!

And when I visited those friends on my north-bound swing, I learned much more about how Latin America celebrates Carnaval. Elio in Panama said, “What’s so strange about that? That’s how we celebrate here!” Nicaraguan Noel, like me, also found Ecuador’s customs bizarre. (But then, in his country, they are in the midst of the seven-month-long dry season when Carnaval arrives. To have a nation-wide water fight would be a sinful waste of a precious resource.)

Carnaval in Santa Marta, Colombia. photo ©Lorraine Caputo

Carnaval in Santa Marta, Colombia. photo ©Lorraine Caputo

From the southern United States to Tierra del Fuego, we are in the throes of Carnival – or Mardi Gras, as it is known in Louisiana (USA).

This celebration occurs in the weeks before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Catholic Lent. The pre-Carnaval season begins 6 January, the feast of Epiphany (Day of the Three Kings).

Carnaval is a huge street party, to let loose one last time before Lent is observed. Carnival began in 14th-century Italy. It blended pagan fertility rites with Catholic ideology: The coming of Spring with the impending 40 days of Lent (when traditionally an observant gives up meat and other foods, or even habits like drinking and smoking) and Easter observances (the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus).

The Saturday preceding Ash Wednesday is an official holiday in Brazil and Panama. In these countries, as well as in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay and Venezuela the Monday and Tuesday proceeding the solemn day are also holidays.

Drums and clarinet characterize Colombian Carnaval music. photo ©Lorraine Caputo

Drums and clarinet characterize Colombian Carnaval music. photo ©Lorraine Caputo

Bon Temps Roulez!

In Latin America (including French New Orleans, Louisiana), Carnaval is a huge parade with lots of drumming, music, dancing and fanciful costumes. Whatever the local brew is – whiskey, rum or chicha – will keep the revelers fueled.

The pre-Carnaval season kicks off big time in Pasto and other southern Colombian towns, with the Carnaval de Negros y Blancos (28 December – 7 January). This festivity is recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. It has its roots, in reality, in the indigenous Quillacinga harvest festivities, celebrated after the December solstice. These days, this Carnaval begins with a water fight on Fools’ Day (28 December). The calendar year ends with the parade of the Old Men, a Latin American-wide fixture of New Year’s Eve. 5 January is the Blacks Day. This was originally a day of rest for the African slaves. In modern times, pastusos (natives of Pasto) don black face. 6 January is Whites Day, and faces whitened with talcum powder. Floats and murgas (dance and drum troupes) are featured on this day. In some communities, 7 January is Reds Day, honoring the indigenous population. Throughout this Carnaval, expect lots of talcum powder to fly.

The Carnaval Andino in Arica (Northern Chile) brings together this city’s diverse population: mestizo, African and Aymara. Here is an Aymara dance troupe. photo ©Lorraine Caputo

The Carnaval Andino in Arica (Northern Chile) brings together this city’s diverse population: mestizo, African and Aymara. Here is an Aymara dance troupe. photo ©Lorraine Caputo

Another note-worthy pre-Carnaval celebration rolls in Arica, in the extreme north of Chile, with the Carnaval Andino con la Fuerza del Sol (Inti Ch’amampi). Here, not only are the streets alive with the dancing of the Aymara people, but also Arica’s significant African-descendent population. It is Chile’s largest carnival celebration, and is held for three days in January or February.

In other parts of South America, communities are also dancing the pre-Carnaval season away, as if preparing for the big events in the week or so before Ash Wednesday.

A typical creature that appears on Colombia’s Carnaval scene is the Marimonda. photo ©Lorraine Caputo

A typical creature that appears on Colombia’s Carnaval scene is the Marimonda. photo ©Lorraine Caputo

The biggest parties are in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Barranquilla (Colombia), which is another UNESCO intangible Cultural Heritage. Lodging is booked months in advance, and tickets for Rio’s Sambodromo competitions sold out.

However, you can find festivities in many other parts of the continent. Outside of Barranquilla, the cities along Colombia’s Caribbean coast have more down-to-earth, community-focused dancing in the streets. A typical creature that appears on this region’s Carnaval scene is the Marimonda, which is named for the black mico monkey that lives in the Caribbean coast forests. The long nose of the humans’ costumes refers to the long tail and long tongue of the other primate – though some equate it to another body part. Both creatures exhibit risqué behavior.

Big celebrations are also held in Salvador (Brazil); Tilcara, which has an Andean-style celebration, and Gualeguaychú, which is Brazilian-influenced (Argentina); Oruro, also a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Hertiage (Bolivia); and Ambato (Ecuador) where Carnaval coincides with the city’s Fiesta de las Frutas y de las Flores (Fruit and Flower Festival). Montevideo (Uruguay) has the world’s longest Carnaval, lasting 40 days. El Callao, in the Río Orinoco delta of eastern Venezuela, has a distinctly Caribbean feel, due to the large Trinidadian population of the town.

Snow in tropical climes? Nay – it’s cornstarch a-flurrying in Santa Marta (Colombia)! photo © Lorraine Caputo

Snow in tropical climes? Nay – it’s cornstarch a-flurrying in Santa Marta (Colombia)! photo © Lorraine Caputo

Not only is there music, dancing and drink, but also all sorts of things may be thrown: water, eggs, paint and cornstarch. A common feature of Carnaval in the Andes is the public water fights in which all passers-by are victims.

It is a sunny, early February day in Copacabana, Bolivia, on the southeast shore of Lago Titicaca. I have come here for a month to finish writing a book on the banana companies in Central America. If I finish, then I shall splurge with a trip to Machu Picchu.

The village celebrated its patron saint – the Virgin of Candelaria – on 2 February. But still throughout the day and night, I hear the troupes wending through this town, and through the countryside settlements. The men and women dance, sing and play without ceasing, continuously chugging chicha and chewing coca leaves. Of the myriad traditional dances, I find the morenada with its clacking toys to be the most fascinating.

Indeed, the Virgin’s feast day has seamlessly blended into the Carnaval season, which will end on Ash Wednesday (on 17 February this year).

As I cross the plaza in front of the beautiful basilica, I feel a stream of water hit my side. I turn around to see a boy – about ten or eleven years old – hiding behind a tree. He has a massive water gun in his chubby hands.

Memories of Carnaval in Quito pass through my mind. There is no way I am going to spend weeks at this altitude (much higher than the Ecuadorian capital) being eternally wet, and running the risk of coming down seriously ill.

With a glare, I walk straight up to the kid and lay my hand on his long, plastic weapon, pushing it to one side. “Do not ever do that to me again, please. Do you understand?”

He looks at me dumbfoundedly and nods yes.

“Good. Thank you.” And I walk away to continue my tasks.

Until that Wednesday when this soaking nightmare ends, I cautiously cross that plaza where the young boys lay in wait. But when they see me come, they point their guns’ nozzles down and timidly greet me. Thank goodness!

Since approximately the beginning of the millennium, customs have changed in Quito. The huge water fights have been outlawed. Slowly travelers have learned this – especially after a visit from the police explaining the newcomers cannot toss balloons from a terrace four stories up.

Nowadays, the capital’s residents celebrate with tossing raw eggs and colored flour. Water continues to play a roll, being shot out of fancy mega-water pistols. The most popular weapon, however, is carioca, or spritz foam.

In Quito, Ecuador, the preferred “weapon” is spritz foam. ©Lorraine Caputo

In Quito, Ecuador, the preferred “weapon” is spritz foam. ©Lorraine Caputo

Ever wonder how Easter is calculated on the Western Calendar?

So wherever you happen to be, join in the Carnaval festivities. Let loose of the winter doldrums and have a wild time during this pre-Lenten time! If you are traveling and want to plan ahead, here’s how you can calculate when the Carnaval season will be:

Easter Sunday (or Resurrection Sunday) is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the (northern) Vernal Equinox.

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter Sunday; the week between the two Sundays is known as Holy Week or Semana Santa. Forty days before Palm Sunday is Ash Wednesday; this period is known as Lent. Before that is Carnaval!

Carnaval falls in either February or March, and Easter Week in March or April.

GAUCHITO GIL : A Home-Grown Saint for Travelers and Justice

A roadside shrine to Gauchito Gil near RíoTurbio, in Argentina’s southern Patagonia. © Lorraine Caputo

A roadside shrine to Gauchito Gil near Río Turbio, in Argentina’s southern Patagonia. © Lorraine Caputo

From the Bolivian border to the Beagle Channel, from the Andes along the Chilean frontier to the Atlantic Ocean, I have seen red flags fluttering at the side of roads. What are these small shrines so boldly decorated?

I am told they are to Gauchito Gil.

But who is he?

My curiosity finally piqued me like a tábano horsefly. I began to search for his history, his mark in the Argentine consciousness.

Pilgrims touch Gauchito Gil’s cross. photo © Lorraine CaputoPilgrims touch Gauchito Gil’s cross. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Pilgrims touch Gauchito Gil’s cross. photo © Lorraine Caputo

The Legends of Gauchito Gil

Gauchito Gil was born in the 1840s in Pay Ubre, approximately eight kilometers (5 miles) from Mercedes, in Argentina’s Corrientes Province. His given name was Antonio Mamerto Gil Núñez. He was of the gaucho peon class, working on a large estancia (ranch) as his father had done. He was assassinated 8 January 1878. During his life, it is said, he was recognized for his healing abilities and known as a devoteé of San La Muerte.

There are three main tales about the life and deeds of Antonio Mamerto Gil Núñez, who came to be known as Gauchito Gil. Some include the story line that he was in love with the widow owner of the estancia (ranch) where he worked – who also throbbed the heart of the local chief of police. (Of course, there ALWAYS has to be a love angle to a tale, no?)

The most common tale is that to escape the love triangle and accusations of robbery (by, of course, his love rival), Gauchito Gil fled to join the army in the War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870) against Paraguay. He returned a hero, but immediately was drafted into the civil wars (1814-1880) raging through the region. He went AWOL and was later captured and executed as a deserter.

The second version of the tale recounts that he was drafted into the Colorado forces to fight against the Liberales in the civil wars. He fled, and when recaptured, declared: “Why am I going to fight my brother and spill his blood if he did nothing against me?” On the way to Goya for his trial, he was executed “while escaping.”

The third variation paints Gauchito Gil as a Robin Hood, stealing from the wealthy land-holding class who sponsored the civil war, to give to the poor of the region who were suffering from the inter-rich fighting.

But all these legends end the same way:

Upon being captured, Gauchito Gil declared his innocence and said the letter with his pardon was on the way. Of course, his jailer did not believe him.

Gauchito Gil also warned his captor that upon returning to Mercedes, he would find his son was dying. If the jailer prayed to Gauchito Gil, the son would be cured.

It happened exactly as Gauchito Gil foretold. The jailer prayed to the renegade gaucho, and his son was cured. To honor the saint and pay for his crime of murdering an innocent man, the executioner walked to Pay Ubre with a large wooden cross. He erected it at the site of the murder.

And the rest is history. The shrine quickly grew, as well as Gauchito Gil’s renown as a saint who could intercede in matters of health, work and safe journeys.

The Santuatio (sanctuary) of Gauchito Gil at Pay Ubre, approximately eight kilometers (5 miles) from Mercedes. photo © LorraineCaputo

The Santuatio (sanctuary) of Gauchito Gil at Pay Ubre, approximately eight kilometers (5 miles) from Mercedes. photo © Lorraine Caputo

In Search of Gauchito Gil

I arrive in Mercedes, in the center of Corrientes Province in northern Argentina. I ask the workers at the hostel how I might be able to arrive at the shrine of Gauchito Gil. Very simple, I am told. Just catch the green Línea 2 city bus at Plaza 25 de Mayo.

As we approach the roadside shrine, red flags dance on the day’s light breeze.

And the bus stops in from of the Santuario de Gauchito Gil. Several others and I debark. Other passengers hop off for a few minutes to make a quick request to the Gauchito. This is customary, I am told. All passing buses pause to allow people to visit this saint.

The many stalls sell everything you need to pay respects to Gauchito Gil at this sanctuary and at home. photo © Lorraine Caputo

The many stalls sell everything you need to pay respects to Gauchito Gil at this sanctuary and at home. photo © Lorraine Caputo

I stroll past dozens of stalls offer all sorts of wares for the faithful: statues and portraits to take home, scapulars and prayer cards to protect them on the road. Red streamers and flags to hang upon his massive statue in the center of the crowded compound and red candles to light the way of their requests to this popular saint.

And I enter the tin-roofed chapels where smaller versions of Gauchito Gil stand, surrounded by candles with flames dancing in a barely perceptible breeze. The walls are covered with plaques, photos, handwritten notes – all thanking this renegade saint for his intersession.

The chapels’ walls are covered with photos, plaques and gifts thanking Gauchito Gil for his intercession on matters of health, justice and journeys. photo © Lorraine Caputo

The chapels’ walls are covered with photos, plaques and gifts thanking Gauchito Gil for his intercession on matters of health, justice and journeys. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Modern Argentina isn’t a particularly religious country. What is it, then, that drives such fervor passed down through generations? What draws hundreds of pilgrims to come here every week? Why do so many thousands come and camp along this highway every 8 January, his feast day?

But in the holiness of this space, I feel uncomfortable to ask probing questions about their faith to a saint the Catholic Church (let alone any other) would adopt as its own.

Statue to chamamé music. Santuario de Gauchito Gil, Pay Ubre. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Statue to chamamé music. Santuario de Gauchito Gil, Pay Ubre. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Chamamé

I cross the highway to a roadside eatery to sit down to a typical Argentine parrillada (barbecue). A small band – guitar, violin and accordion – is playing chamamé music.

This sad music is native to northern Corrientes Province. For a pair of days in early January, after Gauchito Gil’s feast Day, Pay Ubre hosts a chamamé music festival. Dozens of artists, like Nélida Zenón and Julián Zini, pay tribute to this saint. The capital, Corrientes city, has its Fiesta Nacional de Chamamé, also at the beginning of January. Other towns in northern Argentina, too, host chamamé festivals during the austral summer months.

But the cradle of this song is M’burucuyá (155 kilometers / 93 miles southeast of Corrientes city). Here is the home where chamamé pioneer Eustaquio Miño once lived (Calle Cabral, east of Plaza Mitre) and the Museo de Chamamé (Calle Moreno, between Calle Cabral and Calle Astrada). The Festival del Auténtico Chamamé Tradicional (Authentic Traditional Chamamé Festival) occurs in February.

A Gauchito Gil prayer card. photo © Lorraine Caputo

A Gauchito Gil prayer card. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Prayer to Gauchito Gil

Te pido humildemente se cumpla por tu intermedio ante Dios el milagro que te pido y te prometo que cumpliré mi promesa, y ante Dios te haré ver y te brindaré mi fiel agradecimiento y demonstración de fe en Dios y en vos, Gauchito Gil. Amén.

I humbly ask you, through your intercession with God, the miracle that I request and I promise you that I shall fulfill my promise, and before God I shall make you seen and I shall grant you my faithful thanksgiving and demonstrate my faith in God and in you, Gauchito Gil. Amen.

Before I leave Pay Ubre, I cross the road again and am guided by some force to those chapels. A sanctity flows through this space like incense, a sanctity unsanctified by any official church. This is a holiness that blossoms from the roots of the earth – and is common throughout Latin America. Gauchito Gil is found not only throughout his matria¸ but also in neighboring Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil. Other countries have their santos populares. Venezuela has strong cults of popular saints like José Gregorio and María Lionza. And in cemeteries in both small towns and large cities throughout the Americas, you’ll see a tomb with flowers, candles and offerings to some local, home-grown santo. None sanctified by the Catholic Church – but rather sanctified by the pueblo.

Before leaving to return to Mercedes, I stop at these stalls of Santuario de Gauchito Gil. I buy a few travel talismans for my coworkers in the guidebook office.

And, of course, I have mine which I keep with my faithful Rocinanate, ever ready to hit the open road ….

My faithful traveling companion, Rocinante, with Gauchito Gil. photo © Lorraine Caputo

My faithful traveling companion, Rocinante, with Gauchito Gil. photo © Lorraine Caputo

WHEN THE SUN STANDS STILL : 4 Big June Fests in Latin America

The stilled sun on the June Solstice. photo © Lorraine Caputo

The stilled sun on the June Solstice.
photo © Lorraine Caputo

When the Solstice comes in June, the sun stands still for three days, hanging heavy in the sky. So says popular lore, whether of the nature-based beliefs of the northern Hemisphere – thus marking the height of summer, the year’s longest day, or of the Southern Hemisphere – defining the height of winter, the longest night.

The June Solstice is an important moment for many indigenous and agricultural communities in Latin America.

June, though, also presents three other major feasts in this part of the Americas, when Saint Anthony of Padua, John the Baptist, and Saints Peter and Paul are fêted. Some places honor these saints because he is the town’s santo patron (patron saint). In other regions, it is because of an occupational or strong cultural tie.

The celebrations to Catholic saints begin nine days before their feast days. These novenas may include processions, fireworks, special masses and other events.

Let’s take a look at the four big June fests in Latin America – and join in wherever you be. And if you can’t be travelling at this time, just click on the links to experience the continent’s celebrations.

Safe Journeys!

 

San Antonio (Iglesia San Francisco, Quito, Ecuador). photo © Lorraine Caputo

San Antonio (Iglesia San Francisco, Quito, Ecuador).
photo © Lorraine Caputo

San Antonio – 13 June

June 13 is the feast day of San Antonio (Saint Anthony of Padua).

San Antonio was a 13th century Franciscan monk and contemporary of the founder of the order, Saint Francis of Assisi (San Francisco). Saint Anthony was renowned for his knowledge of scripture, and to be able to teach them through simple words and deeds.

San Antonio is the patron saint of lost causes, lost people and of the poor. On his saint’s day, small loaves of bread are passed out after the mass. This symbolizes San Antonio’s devotion to the marginalized peoples of these lands.

The most intriguing celebration to San Antonio is Venezuela’s Tamunangue – or Sones de Negro – which has its roots in African culture. It is said to have originated with San Antonio himself, during his missionary work in northern Africa.

The tamunangue is a dedication to San Antonio performed in Venezuela’s Lara and Yaracuy states. Not only is it to honor him on his feast day, but also to fulfill a promise (promesa) to him for granting a good harvest, a family request (for wishes of healing, a new home, studies, etc.) or for love conquered.

The most famous traditions are in Barquisimeto, capital of Lara State, especially in the La Unión and Los Crepúsculos barrios. The eve of the saint’s feast day is celebrated with a serenade. The next day, mass is said at the parish church in La Unión. The procession then wends through the streets, with dancing and drumming until dusk. At night, the round of dances is performed.

The tamunangue consists of the Dedicatorio or Serenade to San Antonio, which includes the Batalla (Battle), performed by two men. This is to ask the Saint for permission to present the dances promised to him.

This is then followed by a round of seven dances performed by couples: El Yiyevamos, La Bella, La Juruminga, La Perrendenga, El Poco a Poco, El Galerón, and El Seis Figurado (Seis Corrido).

 

In these two poems, I recount the celebrations in northern Nicaragua and in Barquisimeto :

A FEAST DAY IN THE COUNTRY – AND THE CITY

https://www.facebook.com/notes/lorraine-caputo-latin-america-wanderer/a-feast-day-in-the-country-and-the-city/196771497145308

To read my article about the fêting of San Antonio in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, please see:

“The Cult of the Afro-Venezuelan Saints”

http://www.vivatravelguides.com/south-america/venezuela/venezuela-articles/afro-venezuelan-saints

 

Where to catch the celebrations to San Antonio :

Mexico

  • San Antonio Tlayacapan (Jalisco)
  • Soconusco (Veracruz)
  • Limones (Cosautlán, Veracruz)
  • Simojovel (Chiapas)

Guatemala

  • San Antonio Palopó (Solalá)
  • San Antonio Suchitepéquez (Suchitepéquez)
  • Senahú (Alta Verapaz)
  • San Antonio La Paz (El Progreso)
  • San Antonio Huista (Huehuetenango)
  • Sayaxché (El Petén)
  • San Antonio Aguas Calientes (Sacatepéquez)
  • Acatenango (Chimaltenango)
  • Purulhá (Baja Verapaz)

El Salvador

  • Joateca (Morazán)

Honduras

  • Tela (Atlántida)

Venezuela

  • Barquisimeto, Sanare, Tocuyo (Lara)
  • Yaracuy State

Chile

  • Huara, Maintilla, Pica (I Región de Tarapacá)
  • Camar, Ollagüe, Socaire, Peine (II Región de Antofagasta)
  • Putaendo (V Región de Valparaíso)
  • Vilipulli (Chiloé), Huite (X Región de Los Lagos)

Argentina

  • Tartagal, San Antonio de los Cobres (Salta)
  • M’burucuyá (Corrientes)
  • Colonia S. Antonio (Formosa)

 

Inti Raymi blessing ceremony (Plaza San Francisco, Quito, Ecuador) photo © Lorraine Caputo

Inti Raymi blessing ceremony (Plaza San Francisco, Quito, Ecuador)
photo © Lorraine Caputo

June Solstice – Inti Raymi

The June Solstice marks the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of winter in the Southern. The longest day and the longest night occur on the polar opposites of Planet Earth. In 2015, it will occur on Sunday, 21 June 2015, at 16:39 UTC. (To cipher the precise time where it will occur in your part of the world, please consult Time and Date.

In Latin American agricultural communities, the June Solstice marks the season to either beginning sowing the year’s crops or to begin the harvest, depending on the latitude.

The June Solstice is called Inti Raymi in the Andean nations of South America’s former Inca Empire. Manifestations of this celebration may be witnessed in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Often they are simple, down-to-earth fiestas. However, in Saqsayhuaman, near Cusco, Peru, it is a full-out theatrical performance.

The marking of the June solstice, however, isn’t confined to just South America. This celestial event is important to agricultural communities in Mesoamerica as well. At various archaeological sites in Mexico, the ancient sun ceremonies are still celebrated.

 

This photo essay of mine about Inti Raymi recounts a special celebration in Quito, Ecuador:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.340681249420998.1073741880.187654588056999&type=3

 

Where to catch the celebrations to June Solstice :

Mexico

  • Chichén Itzá (Quintana Roo)

Ecuador

  • Mercado San Roque (Quito, Pichincha Province; 22 June)
  • Cotacachi (Imbabura Province; 17-19 June)
  • Cayambe, Sangolquí, Mitad del Mundo (Pichincha Province; 23 June)

Peru

  • Cusco, Saqsayhuaman (Cusco Department)

Bolivia

  • Tiwuanaku (La Paz)

Argentina

  • Tartagal (Salta)
  • Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego)

 

San Juan Bautista baptizing Jesus (Iglesia  San Roque, Quito, Ecuador). photo © Lorraine Caputo

San Juan Bautista baptizing Jesus (Iglesia San Roque, Quito, Ecuador).
photo © Lorraine Caputo

San Juan – 24 June

The fiesta of San Juan Bautista is dedicated to John the Baptist. John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher of a new way of interpreting Jewish scripture, predating Jesus. He baptized Jesus in the river Jordan. His arrest led to his beheading at the request of Herodias, Herod’s daughter.

In many areas of Latin America, if a man is called John (Juan), his saint’s day will be celebrated on 24 June, although he may be named for another Saint John. San Juan is the campesinos’ patron saint. He helps guard against drought.

San Juan’s day is marked in a variety of ways throughout the continent. In Ecuador, the feast of the June Solstice merges with that of San Juan. Otavalo fêtes the saint for a week, culminating the event by throwing rocks at Iglesia San Juan. Calpi in Chimborazo Province celebrates with a rodeo. In Cotopaxi communities, it is the Fiesta de Moros. Wherever you go in this Andean country, expect dances with colorful masks and lots of fireworks.

In Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay, large bonfires (fogatas) are burned in the center of the village. Single women will do special ceremonies to find out about their future husbands.

In Venezuela, San Juan is a principle saint for the country’s African descendants. He is believed to bless waters and herbs used in healing. It is said that Simón Bolívar was a devotee of San Juan.

Venezuela’s biggest San Juan celebration is found in Curiepe (Estado de Miranda). At noon on 23 June, the church bells are tolled amidst the ceaseless rumblings of fireworks and drums. On the saint’s day, a mass is celebrated, followed by offerings, dancing and drumming. The following day, San Juan is lead through the streets to meet with the image of Juan Congo, an African “saint.”

 

Where to catch the celebrations to San Juan :

Cuba

  • Camagüey

Puerto Rico

  • San Juan

Dominican Republic

  • Baní, San Juan de la Maguana, Vicente Noble, Barahona, La Descubierta
  • Jimaní, El Cupey(Puerto Plata)
  • Playa de Güibia (Santo Domingo)

Mexico

  • Chenalhó (Chiapas)

Guatemala

  • San Juan Bautista (Suchitepéquez)
  • Usumatlán (Zacapa)
  • San Juan Chamelco (Alta Verapaz)
  • San Juan Comalapa (Chimaltenango)
  • Amatitlán, San Juan Sacatepéquez (Guatemala)
  • San Juan Atitlán (Solalá)
  • San Juan Ixcoy (Huehuetenango)
  • Olintepeque, San Juan Ostuncalco (Quetzaltenango)
  • El Estor (Morales)
  • San Juan Cotzal (Quiché)
  • San Juan Alotenango (Sacatepéquez)
  • San Juan La Laguna (Solalá)

El Salvador

  • Chalatenango
  • Osicala, Sociedad (Morazán)
  • Monte San Juan (Cuscatlán)
  • San Juan Nonualco (La Paz)
  • Nahuizalco (Sonsonate)

Honduras

  • Trujillo (Colón)

Nicaragua

  • San Juan de Limay (Estelí)
  • San Juan de Oriente, San Juan de la Concha (Masaya)
  • San Juan del Sur (Rivas)
  • Telpaneca, San Juan del Río Coco (Madriz)
  • Ciudad Darío (Matagalpa)
  • Cinco Pinos (Chinandega)
  • San Francisco Libre (Managua)
  • San Juan del Norte (Río San Juan)
  • San Juan de Jinotega (Jinotega)

Panama

  • Chitré (Herrera)
  • Aguadulce (Coclé)

Venezuela

  • Curipe (Miranda)
  • Patanemo (Carabobo)
  • Agua Negra, Farriar and Palmargo (Yaracuy)

Ecuador

  • Otavalo (Imbabura)
  • Tabacundo, Sangolqui (Pichincha)
  • Guamote, Calpi (Chimborazo)
  • Latacunga, San Juan de Guaytacama (Cotopaxi)

Peru

  • Iquitos (Loreto)
  • Pucallpa (Ucayali)
  • Tarapoto, Juanjui, Rioja, Moyobamba (San Martín)
  • Tingo María, Aucayacu ( Leoncio Prado)
  • Puerto Maldonado

Chile

  • Ticnamar, Camarones, Timar, Putre (XV Región de Arica y Parinacota)
  • Huaviña (I Región de Tarapacá)
  • Socaire, Caspana, Toconce (II Región de Antofagasta)
  • Salamanca (IV Región de Coquimbo)
  • Curacautín , Puerto Saavedra, Temuco (IX Región de la Araucanía)
  • Chiloé (XRegión de los Lagos)
  • Puerto Natales (XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena)
  • Puerto Aysén (XI Región de Aisén)

Argentina

  • Tartagal (Salta)
  • Cochinoca (Jujuy)

Uruguay

  • Montevideo

Brazil

  • Fiesta de San Juan en Cachoeira (Bahia)

 

San Pedro arriving by boat (Arica, Chile). photo © Lorraine Caputo

San Pedro arriving by boat (Arica, Chile).
photo © Lorraine Caputo

San Pedro y San Pablo – 29 June

29 June is the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul (San Pedro y San Pablo), the patron saints of fishermen.

San Pablo was a fisherman by trade and one of the original disciples of Jesus. He was the founder of the Christian Church in Rome and the first pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

Saint Paul was born Saul of Tarsus. His occupation with the Roman Empire was the persecution of Christians. According to Scripture, he experienced a visit from the spirit of Jesus which led to his conversion. Saint Paul became a major proponent of Christianity, and much of the surviving New Testament was written by him.

On 29 June, in coastal towns throughout Latin America, San Pablo and San Peter are paraded around the harbor in flower-festooned boats. The celebrations also include music, dancing and other cultural events. The faithful petition Peter and Paul for plentiful fishing. As a sea-faring nation, it is unsurprising that the full length of Chile salutes these saints.

San Pedro and San Pablo are also saluted in highland villages in Guatemala, Colombia and Ecuador, where rain is the more common request to the saints. For some villages, only one or the other saint is fêted, being the patron saint of that community.

In some areas, the feast day of Saint Juan (24 June) merges with those of Pedro and Pablo. In Mexico, Paraguay and Colombia, 29 – 30 June are national holidays.

 

To view my photo-essay, Fiesta de San Pedro y San Pablo, please see:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.340683032754153.1073741881.187654588056999&type=3

 

Where to catch the celebrations to San Pedro y San Pablo :

Mexico

  • Tzimol (Chiapas)

Guatemala

  • San Pedro Sacatepéquez (Sacatepéquez)
  • San Pedro La Laguna (Solalá)
  • San Pedro Carchá (Alta Verapaz)
  • Yepocapa (Chimaltenango)
  • Chuarrancho, San Pedro Sacatepéquez (Guatemala)
  • Almolonga (Quetzaltenango)

El Salvador

  • Corinto, Sensembra (Morazán)
  • San Rafael Cedros, San Pedro Perulapán (Cuscatlán)
  • Teotepeque (La Libertad)
  • San Pedro Masahuat, San Pedro Nonualco (La Paz)
  • Caluco (Sonsonate)

Nicaragua

  • San Pedro y San Pablo (Villanueva, Chinandega)
  • Cuidad Darío (Matagalpa)
  • Diría (Granada)
  • El Jícaro, Mozonte (Nueva Segovia)
  • San Pedro de Lóvago (Chantales)
  • Puerto Cabezas (RAAN)
  • Jinotepe (Carazo)

Colombia

  • San Pablo, Mahates (Bolívar)
  • Neiva (Huila)
  • Jongivito (Nariño)

Ecuador

  • Esmeraldas (Barrio El Panecillo) (Esmeraldas Province)
  • Crucita, Manta, Jaramijó, Montecristi (Manabí)
  • San Pedro y San Pablo, Ayangue, Santa Rosa (Santa Elena Province)
  • Puerto Bolívar (El Oro Province)
  • Checa, Licán, Cayambe, Pomasqui, Ayora, Tabacundo (Pichincha)
  • Pimampiro, Cotacachi, Cayambe (Imbabura)
  • Alausí (Chimborazo)
  • La Magdalena (Bolívar)

Peru

  • Chimbote (Huáraz)
  • Chorrillos and Callao (Lima)
  • Ilo (Moquegua)
  • Ichu (Puno)

Chile

  • Arica (Región XV Arica y Parinacota)
  • Pisagua (Región I Tarapacá)
  • Valparaíso (Región V Valparaíso)
  • Puerto Cisnes (Región XI Aysén)

Argentina

  • Tucumán (Tucumán)
  • Corrientes (Corrientes)