Fiesta of Santa Ines

Santa Inés, Fiesta of

Week preceding the Sunday nearest January 21
The Mayas of Yucatán, Mexico, celebrate this fiesta in the town of Dzitas, which is located near the well-known ChichÉn Itzá ruins. The preparation of foods for the fiesta, especially the grinding of the maize for the cakes known as arepas, takes place on the Wednesday preceding the Sunday nearest January 21, which is the most important day. Some of these cakes are consumed right away by the cargadores, as the men in charge of the fiesta are known, and some are offered to visitors, whom villagers expect will donate funds toward the cost of the festival.
The highlight of the Santa InÉs Fiesta is an organized Mayan dance known as a jarana . A thatched enclosure is built especially for the dance, which is performed by Maya young people. Dancing couples face one another, the men with their hands in back of them and the women lifting their skirts just a bit. The dance floor may hold more than 200 pairs of dancers at a time, and the jarana is considered a good opportunity to meet young people of the opposite sex.
On the final Sunday another ritual, called the pig's head dance, is held to transfer authority to those who will organize the following year's fiesta. Some of the dancers carry roasted pigs' heads decorated with colored paper flags. At the end of the dance, each new cargador receives one of the pig heads from his predecessor, a symbol of the authority and responsibility that has been conferred on him.
CONTACTS:
Mexico Tourism Board
21 E. 63rd St., Fl. 3
New York, NY 10021
800-446-3942 or 212-821-0314; fax: 212-821-0367
www.visitmexico.com
SOURCES:
FiestaTime-1965, p. 17
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