Towns, like people, all have their unique personalities and claims to fame. In Mexico it is no different with towns known from their musical instruments, opals or cliff diving.
Perhaps the most unusual personality for a town is San Miguel de Allende, known as being a living monument to Mexican history and faith expressed in fiestas.
Unlike many museum towns laced with historical gems, our town is exciting. For countless visitors and artists San Miguel has become a mecca for those unable to resist the town’s gaiety that is perfect for both canvas and camera. In addition to visual charm, natural beauty and a benign climate, the town features world-class hotels, restaurants and night spots. Add in art and language schools, concerts, cultural events, dancing, horses, pyramids, cave art, underground tunnels, and the list of activities goes on and on. In addition, most anyone with interests ranging from doll house furniture making to reading auras will find likeminded folks here.
Then, of course, there are the churches and their festivals which really brings the town to life. Fiestas, it is often said, is San Miguel’s major industry and the town’s six patron saints are simply not going to throw their own parties!
As far back as 1789 the local government tried to abolish some of these faith-based fiestas with no success. Recently I stumbled upon the writings of an ex-pat written back in the Dark Ages, otherwise known as the year I was born. Even a half century ago, resident foreigners were complaining about the fireworks. The fireworks are testament to our frequent fiestas being renowned throughout the county and world!
The fiestas are deeply moving religious processions with pomp and exuberance provided by dancers of all types (indigenous, folklore, pop music). Toss in singers, giant puppets, boxing matches, mechanical rides and all types of food and who would ever want the party to end even with the pesky fireworks!?!
Note the dolls on these 1960 era fireworks about to lose their papier-mâché limbs. There’s a fiesta tradition I’m sure Barbie was relieved to see fall out of fashion!
These seemingly endless fiestas add testament to the notion that culture is not found in great works of art, but in the gestures we make in daily living. And in living we realize fiestas are not a luxury, but a necessity in having a successful life.
Joseph Toone is the Historical Society’s short-story award winning author of the SMA Secrets book series. All books in the series are Amazon bestsellers in Mexican Travel and Holidays. Toone is SMA’s expert and TripAdvisor’s top ranked historical tour guide telling the stories behind what we do in today’s SMA. Visit HistoryAndCultureWalkin