Posts Tagged ‘San Miguel de Allende’

They call them Mega Bombas
And there’s a bunch on this video –
Along with the firing of the canons,
The men battling,
Exploding sledgehammers, and a few photos.

For the complete story,
Go to the Sledgehammer Fireworks post

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You hear the din of battle next to the church, the sound of rockets booming and you feel the ground shaking from five blocks away. Each Carnaval, in the tiny town of San Juan de la Vega Mexico, there is a re-enactment of a 400+ year old battle in honor of a local farmer named Juan aquino de la Vega – on the side of the people – a Robin Hood type person who robbed from the rich to give to the poor against the Viceroy and his men.

From the surrounding ranchos, hundreds of men and boys arrive on horseback carrying banners and flags, tipping and waving their cowboy hats. They are part of the procession which is held in honor of San Juan Bautista, the town’s patron saint and are here to participate in a blessing and prayer for the ensuing battle.

The parishoners follow, clasping photos of the saint to their chests entering the battlefield which lies adjacent to the church, immersing themselves in the minefield of boys and young men who are dressed as devils, jesters, clowns, cowyboys, campesinos, soldiers, revolutionaries, cross dressers, gang members or sporting t-shirts with full body images of the Virgin of Guadalupe. They are taping explosive packets by the thousands to the ends of sledgehammers and detonating them on rocks and metal plates.

At noon, after prayers to San Juan, the crowd is pushed into a large circle. At each end a small canon is rolled into place. Men with toy guns, swords and plastic coke bottles for weapons, assemble to fight the battle and circle around, crouched low, raising up and down, awaiting the first canon blast. The canon goes off with a loud boom and swoosh. A big wad of rolled up burning paper lands in the middle of the circle next to a discarded plastic coke bottle and the fight begins. It’s an enactment though, and as you watch, you see that these men, however menacing they may seem, are doing a dance.

Ron discussing the amount of power in one blow of a sledgehammer. CLICK ON THE PHOTO for a video of Ron’s sledgehammer experience —-CLIQUE AQUI

Back on the sledgehammer field, a train passes slowly by, whistle blowing the entire time as packets of fireworks explode under it’s wheels. We meet a group of young men who are dressed like gang members. They befriend us and ham it up for pictures.  As they load charges onto their sledgehammers, Ron asks them what the largest charge they use looks like. They pile the packets on in a big show of bravado, then hand him the sledgehammer and begin dressing him for battle – loaning him sunglasses, a hat and neck scarf for his face.  He refuses the extra packets of ammunition but says ok to the normal charge then grabs the sledgehammer and heads out to the field.  Click on the photo above to see the video of parts of the day and Ron’s rite of passage and his thoughts afterward.

There is one more video in the works.  It will be done in a day or two, showing the battlefield, the re-enactment of the battle, the procession, the pueblo of San Juan de la Vega, and local stories told by women of the community about this historic celebration.

I guess I should mention that the celebration for us is our ninth wedding anniversary.  We really don’t like those typical out to dinner for lack of anything better to do celebrations, so this was perfect for us and an anniversary we will always remember. We had to go on the internet to figure out which anniversary the ninth is.  It’s something like pottery or china.  Not liking formal table settings, we took the bull in the china shop approach. We changed it to FIREWORKS because that’s what works for us!

If you missed the photo and video links, here they are:

“Sledgehammer Fireworks!”

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February 2 – the candlemas, groundhog day in the United States, a cross quarter celebration world-wide, is known here in Mexico as the candelaria, celebrated the 40th day after Christ’s birth, the day Jesus was presented to the temple.  Never mind that the reason it took forty days to get him there was that women were considered ‘unclean’ for forty days after the birth of a child at that time.  Or perhaps women just gave themselves 40 days to recuperate, let’s hope.  But the point is, for however many thousands of years, this celebration still exists, and like everything else wonderful here, it is celebrated with total belief and passion.

This photo was taken on Christmas day when the Santo Ninos are taken to the church to be blessed and kissed by the priest.  Every family has at least one, if not five or six of these Santo Dios’ and there are hundreds of ‘outfits’ if I dare call them that, which you can buy at the Christmas markets for the current year’s nacimiento.

This Christmas, we went to church with our neighbors because the mass was also in honor of Petra’s daugher Maricela who died this year, and for her other daughter Elvia’s husband Jesus who was killed this year. The church nacimiento ran the length of the altar and to the ceiling. Local musicians with guitars were singing the mass.  Toward the end, the baby Jesus, which was resting at the top level of the nacimiento, was brought down, carried by a monk to the front of the altar, where several hundred parishioners formed an orderly line to take turns kissing the baby.  As with most of the traditional celebrations here, the belief in something bigger than you is omnipresent and something I find a wonderful relief and counterpoint to the lack thereof in the western world. (more…)

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