One of the most important festivities in Espita, municipality located in the east of Yucatán (165 km from Mérida, 2 hours approximately), is the celebration honoring the Baby Jesus, Espita’s Saint Patron, that is held from December 19th to the 26th. When we say “celebration,” we mean that during these dates there will be various folk activities taking place such as “vaquerías,” guild processions, concerts, and dances; all with great appeal for visitors because of their joy, colors, and traditions.
In Yucatán the religious fiestas are planned in advance; in this case various pilgrimages take place starting in October, to different communities within walking distance, to show their devotion to Baby Jesus. In November the “convite” takes place, a walk through the main streets of Espita where the authorities and residents, dressed in regional attire and accompanied by music and “voladores” (fireworks), invite their own townspeople and visitors alike to join the celebration of the holy Baby Jesus, everything ends with a huge meal for everyone and a popular dance.
As part of the advance preparations, on December 9th the image of the Baby Jesus is taken from its niche in the San José church, (known as the “Child’s descent” and it’s the main catholic church at Espita), and begins its journey with each of the approximately 30 “gremios” (guilds) that adore him. The first day belongs to the Guemez family: during the government of General Salvador Alvarado, his troops destroyed many of the religious images, but Don Miguel Guemez rescued the Baby Jesus and took it to his house so the people could go and pray to him there.
The other days correspond to each one of the other “gremios”, that are part of the city tradition. They each do a procession to return the image, that was given to them earlier, to the church. They are full of color with all their participants wearing regional attire, and the children and women carrying a bouquet of fresh flowers that will be given to Baby Jesus. It’s amazing to see the city movement and joy because of the festivity.
All the activities take place in an environment of brotherhood, with neighbors, municipal authorities, and guests participating in this traditional party, an example of joy and culture. Also, traditional dishes can be tasted every day in the fair that takes place at the same time, and at night the sky is full of fireworks. The “charanga” music accompanies the processions, dances and “vaquería.” The most important day of the celebrations, where all the “gremios” come together, is December 25, an important Catholic date. The fiesta is full of enthusiasm, food, dance and color.
So if you are looking for a different party, full of color and traditions, Espita could be your following destination.
– Península of Yucatán
By Violeta H. Cantarell
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