Villa Santa Cruz

Day of the Dead v. Halloween - Friends or Foes?

Sunday, October 30, 2011
El Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a national holiday in Mexico that is, ironically, full of life, color and energy. The belief is that the spirits of the deceased return once a year to spend time with their families. And so, between October 31 and November 2, Mexican families visit cemeteries, decorate the graves of their loved ones, and rejoice in the reunion of their families – the past with the present. With delicious food and lively music, the Day of the Dead is actually a celebration of life. 

In the town of Todos Santos, with a healthy mix of both Mexicans and Gringos, the juxtaposition of the celebrations of American Halloween and Mexican Day of the Dead are a bit peculiar at first glance. The two holidays are based on completely opposite ideas of death – Halloween stems from an innate fear of ghosts and spirits while the Day of the Dead is a joyous time to reunite with deceased friends and family members. However, as the centuries have ticked by, and Halloween has morphed from a superstitious terror-invoking event into a secular, community-oriented festivity, the spirit of the two holidays now seem to complement each other. 

Here in Todos Santos, Halloween and Day of the Dead revelry are in full force. The Sandbar hosted a wild Halloween party on Friday night, followed by the traditional costume extravaganza at the Hotel California on Saturday night. And, the streets and storefronts in Todos Santos are festively decorated for the Day of the Dead. The traditional Mexican Catrina, the well-dressed skeleton figurine seen all over Mexico, has made a grand appearance at La Garra Bar, the Cultural Center is decorated with a Day of the Dead altar, and a skeleton has even saddled up to the bar at Cafelix. At Villa Santa Cruz, the beautiful talavera urn that adorns our staircase reminds us of this lively holiday year-round. What a time to be in Todos Santos!


La Garra Bar's Catrina

The Cultural Center


Cafelix's Bony Patron

Villa Santa Cruz Urn

Anonymous commented on 30-Oct-2011 07:14 PM
Jess, what a great posting. todos is really cooking with both holidays. can't wait to see you. In early Dec! Give Mateo and sugar a hello kiss for me.
Villa Santa Cruz commented on 31-Oct-2011 03:02 PM
So looking forward to your visit (and Sugar too)!

Viva Mexico! Mexican Independence Day Celebrated in Todos Santos

Saturday, September 17, 2011

We are lucky in Todos Santos to have many festivals, parades, and events throughout the year, but, without doubt, the biggest night of them all celebrates the Día de Independencia - Mexican Independence Day.

While the actual Independence Day is September 16, the celebration begins the night before with a grand party in the main plaza.  The Mission is dressed up in a light show, food stands made of palm fronds appear so you can feast on authentic and delicious churros, tamales, and pozole (just to name a few), you can play Mexican Bingo, vote for the queen of Todos Santos, and watch the dance and music troops performing on stage.



The night culminates around 11pm with the infamous El Grito - literally "the yell."  The yell is a call-and-response between the speaker and the audience, mimicking the yell from Hidalgo in 1810, encouraging the people to revolt against the Spanish colonial government.  

In Todos Santos, this year's yell was led by Esthela Ponce, the Presidenta Municipal de La Paz (akin to the Mayor).  She yelled and we spiritedly responded:

"Viva Hidalgo!


Viva Morelos!


Viva el Pueblo Mágico de Todos Santos!


Viva Mexico!


Yes indeed, Viva Mexico!


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Cinco de Mayo - An American Invention?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

For many people living in the United States, the 5th of May, or Cinco de Mayo, is a day to let loose and celebrate. With visions of margaritas and cervezas, crazy sombreros and delicious Mexican food, for many Cinco de Mayo is a day to leave work early and hit the neighborhood cantina for a Mexican fiesta. The irony is that while the Americans are partying it up in the USA, it is just a normal day in Mexico without fanfare, parties or even as much as a second thought given to the day…why is this? 

Americans widely believe that Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s independence, but this is just not the case. Mexico earned its independence from Spain in 1821 and celebrates this day – the most important national holiday of the year – on September 16. Cinco de Mayo is merely the anniversary of the Mexican military’s triumph over the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It was an important victory to the Mexican people because their smaller, outnumbered army defeated the larger French forces, helping the Mexican people develop a much needed sense of national identity in Mexico (which is the reason for its continued celebration).

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico as a regional holiday in the State of Puebla (where the famous battle took place), but really nowhere else in Mexico. Yet, the celebration of Cinco de Mayo in the United States has exploded! It seems that Americans have transformed the day from its origin as the commemoration of a Mexican military victory into a day to celebrate Mexican pride and culture – similarly to the celebrations of the Irish, German and Chinese heritages associated with St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest or the Chinese New Year.

So, even though the US celebration of Cinco de Mayo has evolved into something bigger than the actual holiday itself, it remains a great day to join in to celebrate the vibrant Mexican culture. So, go on, leave work early, head down to a Cinco de Mayo celebration and shout “Viva Mexico!”

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