My first post from San Miguel De Allende, Mexico is about one of the most popular celebrations in Catholic countries and cities: the Easter Carnival. This is a tradition that is held every Sunday prior to Ash Wednesday before Lent. In San Miguel in the 1970s and before the tradition took place on the Jardin, the central plaza of the town and consisted of the women walking in the opposite direction to the men, who gave their chosen woman a flower or asked permission to sprinkle confetti from an empty eggshell on their heads – requesting them to be their girlfriend. The girls were always in the company of their mothers and sisters.
This the beginning of spring here, in San Miguel, and also the start of religious and secular activities leading up to Easter. Today on the Jardin my favorite local ritual took place, definitely derived from pagan origins. Male and female children and teens chased each other with bags full of painted eggs that were empty of the usual content and filled with confetti (although the young jokers in the crowd filled them with tempera paint powder or flour). Except for the little kids it is a blatant courting and fertility ritual and loosely continues the tradition from the 70s and before. Boys chased girls and visa versa and smashed eggs on each others heads, covering each other and the entire ground of the Jardin with inches thick multi coloured confetti. It was hilarious and joyful to watch and no one was exempt, I was just sitting on a bench taking photographs and I was egged three times and completely covered in confetti. I watched the kids running after each other around the outside of the Jardin, screaming, laughing and egging while the adults danced together around the central bandstand to mariachi music under blue skies and hot sun.
I know we have much to be thankful for in the north but I think so often, when I am here, that our northern culture is missing so much, we have so few gathering places or deeply traditional events like this on the Jardin – to dance, play music and connect with each other, and we have nothing to match this eggstatic ritual of joy in celebrating spring and courtship.