Yucatán is home to festivals year-round. One of the most anticipated is the festivity of Candlemas, known in México as el Día de la Candelaria, celebrated every February 2nd.
La Candelaria is celebrated across much of the Christian world, but as with most traditions, Yucatecos have found a way to celebrate it in a way all their own. This is especially true in Valladolid, where the Virgin of the Candelaria is the city’s patron saint.
The legend, which has its origin in Spain, states that upon returning to town from the wilderness a young slave encountered a beautiful woman holding a child and a candle. Feeling in his heart that this was no ordinary woman, the slave told his master who then provided shelter for the woman and her child. In gratitude, the woman, who turned out to be an emanation of the Virgin Mary, cleansed the community of the plague and filled their hearts with joy.
In commemoration of the Virgin of Candelaria, people across Mexico enjoy tamales on February 2nd. According to tradition, the tamales must be provided by the person or persons who found a small figure of baby Jesus in their Rosca de Reyes on the date of the Epiphany, January 6th, also known as Día de Reyes or Three Kings’ day.
In Mérida, celebrations on February 2nd center around the 16th-century Templo de la Candelaria, in Barrio de San Juan downtown.
But in Valladolid the celebrations are not limited to a single day. Instead, a full 12 days are dedicated to la Virgen de la Candelaria. During this time, the city holds several processions and masses, but also holds an enormous fair complete with music, entertainment, rides, and of course lots and lots of food.
The highlight of the festivities, however, is an enormous party organized by a local Gremio (or guild) complete with bullfighting, fireworks, and Yucatán’s traditional Vaquería to the rhythm of the state’s most famous dance, the Jarana.
Keep in mind that there is a big difference between the party-like atmosphere of the Vaquería and the solemn religious processions which run between the Church of the Candelaria and the Calzada de Los Frailes; please be mindful and respectful.
Like all Yucatecan towns and cities, Valladolid is full of a great many warm and wonderful people, so if you feel like joining in on the festivities don’t let shyness get in your way. You are sure to have a wonderful time!
Editorial by Carlos Rosado.
Coming from a Mexican/Canadian family, Carlos Rosado is an adventure travel guide, blogger, and photographer with studies in Multimedia, Philosophy, and Translation.
Photography by Carlos Rosado and La Razón Noticias for its use in Yucatán Today.
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