Since Aztecs times, religious festivities have been a major part of mexican life. Catholicism found a fertile land here and an interesting –and sometimes impossible to understand- syncretism became the quintessence of Mexican national identity. You’ll be surprised, on looking closer at Mexico's carnivals, to find very conservative people dancing to please or to ask favors from the Pre-Hispanic gods masked behind catholic saints. If exploring those traditions is your kind of thing, Tlaxcala and Tepoztlan are a must for your trip.
More liberal? Chiapa de Corzo has a massive parade where men dressed as women (the chuntas) cast aside their prejudices and laugh at themselves… but only for a day; don´t forget, provincial Mexico remains, after all, a very conservative country.
In the same state, only 30 minutes away, the intrepid cultural tourist can join in a 2-day long powder fight in Ocozocuautla’s carnival parade. A taste for simpler and more superficial pleasures – and tropical music – might take you to the streets of Mazatlan, Merida and Veracruz, where locals make their own dancefloors for the biggest and nation-wide renowned carnivals in Mexico.
Carnival celebrations are determined by a lunar calendar. The next carnival falls between February 8th and 12th 2013. Sadness and laughter are dialectical sides of the same tradition in the very Mexican celebration, Dia de muertos (Day of the dead). Every year, from October 30th to November 2nd,, shrines dedicated to those who have passed on are constructed in a great number of Mexican houses. Decorated with colored paper garlands and the dead person’s favorite food and drink, the altars will be visited by relatives and friends en masse. On the last day, cemeteries will stage a huge celebration, where music, food and prayers fill the air in one of the most pagan-mystical feasts in Mexican culture.
“There’s a celebration day for every chapel”, goes a Mexican saying. Take a look at the map, and you’ll discover more than a thousand towns called San Juan, (Saint John), San Jose (Saint Joseph) or Santa Maria (Saint Mary). You can expect a huge party there on the day of each patron’s saint. Given that, it would be an impossible feat to list every street party and celebration in Mexico, but be sure you´ll find one for you, whichever day of the year.