Friday, October 30, 2015

A witches’ brew of traditions

Pink-haired rock stars and pretty devils

It’s the time of year when devils, skeletal Catrinas, pink-haired rock stars and hobgoblins make an appearance – in a witches’ brew of celebrations and traditions; the Mexican Dia de los Muertos, combined with our North American Halloween, and the very spiritual Mayan celebration of Hanal Pixán.   

It’s a fascinating time of year to be in Mexico.

Recent breakfast at Naval Officers' Club
October is also when the current Navy Commodore’s wife hosts the annual costume-party breakfast at the Officers’ Club on Medina Avenue.  Doña Olivia, along with her right-hand person Susana Olvera, did an outstanding job this year.  

The monthly breakfast event is an important fundraiser that helps purchase equipment and furnishings for the Navy hospital on Isla Mujeres.  

Minnie Mouse
It’s a fun time to visit with seldom-seen friends, and make new acquaintances.  Then breakfast is served, raffle prizes drawn, and sometimes a version of flash-card bingo is played.  The Gringa population informally refers to the event as The Navy Wives’ Breakfast because the longer Spanish name is a mouthful of difficult consonants and unfamiliar words. 

This year Minnie Mouse put in an appearance at the costume party.  Wearing over-sized yellow shoes she stumbled her way to the door.  Peering through eye-holes in the giant head she was greeted by scary hunchbacks, devils, and the Scream Ghostface man.  The room was jammed.   Everyone participated in the crazy fun by wearing costumes and disguises.  A huge amount of effort had gone into the decorations with black and orange balloons, table cloths, napkins, Halloween themed food and a pumpkin-faced cake.

Mariachis band - ten musicians

There was a short video presentation showing the various items at the hospital that had been purchased in the past year by the fundraising efforts of the women.  

Then a ten-person mariachi band played some great tunes and the door prizes were drawn.  At our table of fourteen women, islander Gail Stewart was the lucky one to win a prize. 

Our table at the breakfast
If any of your island friends ask if you would like to go to the Navy Wives’ Breakfast – say Si!  You will have a fun time, and be contributing back to the island.  

Sue McDonald Lo is a great source for information and tickets.  Minnie Mouse is already planning her costume for next October!

As for the rest of the witches’ brew of traditions, the city is hosting a number of events to draw visitors into the local celebrations.  

Friday October 30th is the Paseo de las Ánimas – the Parade of the Souls starting around 6:00 in the evening at the older cemetery in centro and finishing at the recently completed Casa de la Cultura – Cultural Center. 
Altars - Photo from FB Naranja Dulce
On Saturday October 31st in the square at city hall there will be a mix of traditions: the judging of Halloween-style costumes for children, and the building of beautiful altars for the Mayan Hanal Pixán celebrations.  

The altars are traditionally decorated with candles, candy skulls, bright yellow Marigold petals, favourite foods and photographs of the deceased loved ones.   The Municipality of Isla Mujeres has until recently been very low-key on this important celebration, preferring to let the families privately honor their deceased loved ones. 

San Miguel de Allende
I have mixed feeling about making it a public event.  In San Miguel de Allende, closer to Mexico City, the amazing altars, offerings and decorations are a huge tourist draw.  We were there, accidentally, in 2008; the sight is breathtakingly beautiful. 

But a part of me thinks this should remain a private family event, not a tourist attraction. 

Still, it is a fascinating time of the year to be in Mexico.  We can’t think of anywhere else we would like to be right now.

Cheers from paradise!
Lynda & Lawrie

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Gailmarie7 said...

As always, a wonderful, weekly treat! Thriled to get my name and picture included! Was so much fun aving breakfast with you and I think you and Minnie are troopers!!!

Lynda & Lawrie said...

Thanks Gail. Now if I could just stop Minnie from photo-bombing other people's pictures ...... she can be such a brat at times. Cheers L