When Worlds Collide

No, not the 1951 science fiction classic (and you’re dating yourself if you even remember that movie), I’m thinking of the line from the opening song to the Rocky Horror Picture Show (“Science Fiction/Double Feature”). As in “But when worlds collide, said George Pal to his bride, I’m gonna give you some terrible thrills.”

Actually, there is nothing so dramatic to report here. The title just occurred to me as I considered what it is like to live in another culture during a holiday season.

One sample menu. Price in pesos equals ~$10 USD

It really hit home a week ago Wednesday, when Judy and I were hiking. As we were nearing our casa, I said, “that was a great hike. I think tomorrow will be pretty quiet; do we have anything planned?” Judy said “Just Thanksgiving.” Yes, I had completely forgotten the most American of all holidays. Oh, we had plans, including a traditional dinner with friends at a local restaurant. Because of the large expat population, many local restaurants serve up a traditional Thanksgiving feast. I even had a little warning, as Canadian Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday of October, and was dutifully celebrated by Canadian expats and local restaurants lakeside.

Thanksgiving week here coincided with the start of the Mexican fiesta season.  The third Monday in November (November 20th this year) commemorates the 1910 Revolution (Día de la Revolución) which overthrew the dictator Porfirio Díaz. The weekend leading up Día de la Revolución has been adopted by Mexican commercial interests as Buen Fin (Good End, as in “buen fin de semana” or “good weekend”, which is the Mexican equivalent of Black Friday). Interesting to note that the stores did not try to purloin a religious holy day, but instead chose a secular holiday.

The very next day was the start of the patronal feast for San Andrés (St. Andrew).  Each town has a patron saint, and celebrates a novena (nine day fiesta) in their honor. This includes bands playing at dawn, fireworks until midnight, parades sponsored by different groups, singing, dancing, rides and beer/food stalls and items for sale on the closed streets around the plaza…each night! San Andrés feast is November 30th, but for some reason (Mexicans don’t require much reason for this) the fiesta is extended this year all the way to December 3rd.

That date is muy importante, as the next day begins the novena (yes, another nine days of national fiesta) for Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is December 12th. Mexicans of all ages hold Mary in special regard and this is a very special time for them. But you can see where this is going, because on December 16th, the novena before Christmas begins with posadas (nightly street processions recalling the Holy Family’s search for an inn in  Bethlehem, but these processions end with house parties). New Year’s eve is much the same as NOB, but is followed by Día de Reyes (Three Kings Day) on January 6th, which is the traditional day for giving children gifts in Mexico.

Basically, from November 20th until January 6th, not much gets done lakeside (or in Mexico, for that matter), and there is always some reason to celebrate.

And for those still wondering why I began this post with a clip from Rocky Horror: well, last Thanksgiving, I posted (on FaceBook) a link to the classic song “Alice’s Restaurant.” I thought I would show a little range with my musical selection this year…after all, “its just a jump to the left!”

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