While in the USA we have been celebrating Halloween for years, in Latin America, it is just a new tradition that will need time to be acepted as a part of latin culture. Many latin holidays are based on the calendar and we present you some of the most popular ones:
On November 2nd, Mexico, like many Latin American countries celebrates the Day of the Dead. Latin American people believe that death is a transition from one life to another. Therefore, the Day of the Dead in Mexico is not a morbid affair, rather a happy and colorful celebration. Indigenous people believed that souls did not die, that they rested in a special place until the day they could return home to visit their relatives.
One of the main Latin American holidays which takes place in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela and Uruguay is the festival of the “Virgen de la Candelaria”. It is celebrated every February 2nd and involves a parade where dancers follow a statue of the Virgin Mary through the city. The dancers stop in front of the cathedral to be blessed and then continue on their parade meanwhile being cooled by people throwing water from their balconies.
Carnaval is a 4-day celebration that takes place in South America. Mardi-Gras or Fat Tuesday is always the 4th day of carnival and refers to the entire period between Epiphany or Twelfth Night and Ash Wednesday. In southern Peru, it is traditional during Carnival for children to throw colored flour at each other. There are foam parties on the streets afterwards to wash away the flour. Many adults also get involved in this part of the celebration.
5th May is an important date in the Mexican calendar as it commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Unsurprisingly, the town of Puebla celebrates this holiday more than anywhere else with Mexican food, drink and music on the streets. In most parts however, it is just a regional holiday.
15th September marks the anniversary of independence for 5 Hispanic countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile achieved independence just days later. Chile celebrates Independence Day with month-long festivities whereas other countries plan their entertainment around harvest and the welcoming of spring.
The Snow Festival is a religious festival held annually in late May or early June in Peru. 30,000 pilgrims of different faiths come together to worship the water supplied by the ice capped mountains. The legend of “The Snow Lord” originates from an old folktale: a young shepherd, Mariano, makes friends with a mixed race boy, Manuel. Thanks to Manuel, Mariano's herd prospers. To say thank you, Mariano´s father wants to buy clothes for Manuel but doesn´t know what material Manuel likes against his skin. When Mariano and his father go to find Manuel to ask him, he is injured and Mariano dies of a broken heart and is buried under a rock. The Snow Festival consists of parades and dances in and around the “shrine” of the Mariano AKA “The Snow Lord”. Some pilgrims bring back blocks of ice from the festival because they are said to have healing properties.