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Becari QR: The Guelaguetza Festival in Oaxaca, Mexico

Published Bernice on Friday, April 6, 2018

The Guelaguetza Festival is a celebration in which representatives from the 8 different regions of Oaxaca come together and celebrate the diversity of their traditions, culture, music and cultures. The state of Oaxaca is home to 18 different ethnolinguistic groups  from the 61 in the whole country of Mexico, and is incredibly diverse. For the Guelaguetza, members of these groups gather wearing their traditional clothing and perform folk dances that are particular to their region.


When each region finish their dancing, they throw items to the crowd, products that come from the region they represent. For example if they produce hats in their region, they will throw the hats to the people, if they grow pineapples, they will throw the pineapples to the public, if their main product is “tortillas” they will throw the tortillas.


The Guelaguetza Festival, also called the Lunes del Cerro, or "Mondays on the Hill," is celebrated in Oaxaca City on the last two Mondays of July, except when one of these falls on  July 18th, which is the anniversary of the death of Benito Juarez, the most important president of Mexico,  in which case it takes place on the following two Mondays.


In 2018 the Guelaguetza festival will be held on Monday, July 23rd and Monday, July 30th. This will be the 86th edition of the Guelaguetza festival in its current form. There is one representation in the morning and one in the afternoon. 


The word Guelaguetza means "offering" in the Zapotec language, and its meaning goes far beyond the festival. In traditional Oaxacan villages when there is an occasion for a celebration, such as a baptism, wedding, or the feast day of the village patron saint, a death,  the people attending the party will bring items necessary for the celebration: food, alcoholic beverages, etc. And they will write it on the notebook, so they know which “offering” they will bring next celebration. 


Each person's offering or "guelaguetza" allows the party to take place and becomes part of a reciprocal exchange and is one of the ways social ties are reinforced and maintained through time.


The Guelaguetza festival as it is celebrated today is a mixture  of prehispanic celebrations of the corn goddess, Centeotl, and the Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which falls on July 16th.


You should come to Oaxaca during this time of the year. Take our Spanish lessons at Becari Conzatti and enjoy all these celebrations full of color and culture. The school can organize you attendance to all the different events happening during this time of the year. 

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