A Yucatecan Church Dance

Jorge’s parents have been going to the same Catholic church around the corner from their house for years.

This past week, the church celebrated its 25th anniversary, and they spent the whole week partying! I only went to 1 night of celebrations (but I hear there were lots of rockets, dancing and food involved throughout the week), and I got to see the ladies dress in beautiful Yucatecan ternos while they showed traditional regional dances.

(Please forgive the blurriness of the photos! It was nighttime and there was lots of movement.)

There was a taco stand (run by my suegro), a marquesita stand, a live band, a conga line, a dance circle and some salsa music. These church-going folks sure know how to party!

Año Viejo: New Year’s Tradition in Yucatan

For New Years, we once again went to the fishing village of Chabihau in the state of Yucatan to visit Jorge’s family. This year there was even a wedding! Jorge’s cousin Yeni (pronounced like “Jenny”) got married to her long-time beau, Armando.

We also did some crocodile watching out on Chabihau's salt lagoon

I’d heard before about a special tradition in the Yucatan known as “Año Viejo” (“Old Year”), but this year was the first time I got to see it. On our ride from Cancun to Chabihau, we passed through several villages that had dummies set out by the front gate of the homes. These dummies are known as “Años Viejos“, and they’re filled with rockets and fireworks.

Read that again… rockets and fireworks.

On December 31, the Año Viejo dummies are set out by the front door, and at midnight they’re ignited in the street to represent the end of the “Old Year”. Make sure to keep your distance! It can get pretty loud.

An "Año Viejo" in the town of Cansahcab, Yucatan

From what I could gather from Jorge’s family, it seems Año Viejo is a popular tradition throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, as well as in the state of Veracruz.

Since I was at the wedding at midnight, I didn’t get to see the Año Viejo lit up this year, even though we did have some regular fireworks and sparklers. Oh well, there’s always next year!

What did you do for New Year’s?

A Yucatecan Wedding

This past weekend, my suegros celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.

They began by renewing their vows. Jorge and I were the padrinos del lazo. What does this mean? We were in charge of carrying the lazo down the aisle at the beginning of the ceremony, then placing the lazo around the newlyweds’ necks at the end of the ceremony.

This is what a lazo looks like, for those who aren't in-the-know

We were the worst padrinos de lazo in the history of Mexican weddings. Before the ceremony, we were simply told, “Don’t worry. They’ll tell you what to do during the ceremony.” Greeeeat.

When I got to the church, I pull the lazo out of my purse… and the cross had fallen off. Excellent. I spent about 10 minutes with Aunt Elsy and Uncle Tony trying to get it back on… to no avail. Jorge showed up late to the ceremony. So, I had to walk a crossless lazo down the aisle with my future brother-in-law, Jair.

Jair whispered to me, “You have to come up front with me for a reading.” “Ok, what am I reading?” “Nothing, just stand there.” What the heck? So I stood awkwardly in front of the church while Jair read, then we sat down.

For the next half hour things went fine. (I managed to hook the cross back onto the lazo chain at this time. Hurray!) Then it was time for the rings. Nobody had told my other future brother-in-law, Darwin, where the rings were. He had also been told they would tell him what to do. The whole ceremony had to wait 30 seconds while he ran to the back of the church to get the rings.

At this point, the “coordinator” told Jorge and I that we should go up front because right after the rings, we’d put the lazo on. We went up, all ready. The coordinator signalled it was our turn. I walk over to my suegros. At this point, the priest looks at me and shakes his head. The coordinator says, “Sorry, it’s time for your readings.”

HUMILLIATION!

So Jorge and I walk up to the podium, read our parts very well, and sit down again. (FYI, nobody had told me I had to read until 10 minutes before the ceremony.)

The rest of the ceremony went well. Jorge and I placed the lazo on them at the end of the ceremony.

So I’m pretty sure Jorge’s entire family thinks I’m an idiot. I blame the coordinator for not knowing what was going on. And my suegros, just a little bit. THIS is why you need to have a rehearsal, people. (ok, ok… it was my fault the lazo broke.)

It may have been a beautiful ceremony, but I had no idea because I was freaking out the entire time.

All this was forgotten soon after, at the reception. It was at a very nice event space, with a pool, some palm trees and a palapa. Everyone in the family had been told to wear traditional Yucatecan clothing, which made everything very very cool. The men wore guayaberas (linen dress shirts), and the women wore ternos (white dresses with embroidered flowers).

Salon Oaxaca, the event area

My suegra on her wedding day 🙂

centerpieces... coconut napkin holders (remember I helped make those??), pink bugambilias and baskets holding traditional Yucatecan candies

My suegros, their 3 sons, and the padrinos (godparents for the wedding)

The women in their "ternos" (Aunt Celia, Cousin Alondra and her daughter Sofia, Aunt Norma and Aunt Marbella)

The dance floor! (That's Jorge's best friend Mickey and one of the neighbor-ladies. He got tired before she did.)

There's me dancing (and very amused by something, apparently) My suegra picked out my dress... a modern take on a traditional terno.