Friday, August 29, 2008

Halloween and Christmas in Mexico

I had started this blog entry when I flipped to Jonna's blog and saw her comment about finding Christmas decorations in a store in Merida.

We saw this in a store the other day, isn't it August?? This is just WRONG!

I agree with Jonna. It is just too early to start the commercials and merchandise for Christmas. Is Christmas stuff already out in the USA? 'Back in the old days' see how old I'm getting, you didn't see stores with Christmas decorations out until about Thanksgiving. I guess that it has been gradually moving back but surely not to the middle of August.

For me, it is wrong on another level as well. Somehow snowmen and lighted angels and Santa Claus just do not seem like Mexico. Mexico has the beautiful and religiously significant Posadas, the day of the three kings, and elaborate nativity scenes. Special foods, family and church. I hate to see that change to the commercialism and stress of what we do in the USA.

Now for the most part I try to keep my nose out of Mexican business ideas. If the Mexicans want a Starbucks in San Miguel, I'm not going to join the gringo protestors in the Jardin. I have the feeling that some gringos think that Mexico's progress and modernization should stop just as soon as they move here. I guess they think it is really charming to see someone plowing with a donkey or carrying huge bundles of roses up the street on their backs. I'm all for exploring new business ideas, using better equipment and providing more jobs. But surely, the Mexicans don't have to adopt the USA Christmas and Halloween.

And Halloween is another example. The Catholic Church in Mexico is asking parishners not to follow the Halloween trend. Halloween falls at the time of Day of the Dead in Mexico and I've come to love this time when families come together and remember loved ones who have passed on. I think the Mexican tradition is so much richer than the kids dressing up as devils and ghouls and begging for candy or for the adults to dress in outlandish costumes and drink. But it is happening. Every year we see more kids in the Jardin in costumes collecting candy from everyone.

I don't know which came first, Costco and WalMart 'selling' Halloween and Christmas or if they are just following the lead of what the customer wants.

Yes, Jonna, you are right. This is just wrong.


jennifer rose said...

Now, now, now, Billie. I just have to respond.

Santa Claus came from Europe, didn’t he? So, too, did The Church which brought the concept of Christmas to the heathens of Mexico. So, what’s wrong with that? The Day of the Kings sure didn’t exist before Mexico got its religion. The U.S. doesn’t hold the monopoly on Santa Claus; he exists in Japan and Argentina as well. Even though a BsAs Christmas is celebrated during its summer, the images of Santa Claus dressed up in fur and wading through snow persist there.

Asking that Mexicans forgo celebrating Halloween is akin to asking Estadounidenses not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, and even Easter. What’s with Estadounidenses doing all that stuff with Jesus and the Cross and Passion Plays – when it all took place over somewhere in the Middle East?

Anyone who doesn’t support the expansion of Halloween to the rest of the world is a Communist!

Steve Cotton said...

Being the son of postmodernism that I am, I find ritual in religion annoying. However, what is even more annoying to me is the commercial co-opting that seems to accompany every holiday (or holy day, as the root of the word shows). The essence of Christmas and Easter should be a daily experience. The kitschification of holidays leaves us with the empty symbol stripped of any meaning. (I thought I had written on this topic somewhere. It is:

Sorry about the soap box tone. But the stores are now feeding one of my pet peeves.

Billie said...

Jennifer, I knew I'd hear from you on this one. I do tend to be an isolationist on the Halloween issue.
Comrade, Billie

Steve, Good post about Valentines. I'm all for holidays but I like them to be more about family and friends and sitting down at a table and breaking bread together.
Billie, who loves truffles for Valentines....actually you can give me chocolate truffles any time.

Jonna said...

Yeah, it's wrong. But, ni modo, what can you do?

Unlike Steve, I only like religious stuff that is heavy on the ritual and the music and the mystery. Otherwise, it seems rather pointless to me but then, since I don't believe in any of it, I'm just there for the show.

I guess that is why my favorite holiday from the USA is Thanksgiving. It's a great holiday, all about food and friends and being happy about both. I wish they would import that and leave Sr Claus and the halloween witches alone. The problem there is that it is not a holiday that promotes a lot of buying, a little food and a little booze, that's it. So, no motivation to promote it.

We can only hope to live long enough to bore everyone with our stories about how it was in Mexico when there was no Santa and no witches. We could form a gang!

1st Mate said...

I was sick of commercialized holidays before I ever moved to Mexico. In the States retail businesses base their year's success status on how well they do at Christmas. That would have to catch on in Mexico among the more progressive types, it's unstoppable. Make the holidays big moneymakers, get the customers scrambling for an endless cycle of useless "must-have" doodads. That doesn't work so well with the Mexican customs of Dia de los Muertes and Navidad...after all, you can only sell so many sugar skulls, crysanthemums and pinatas. I'll ignore as much as possible any efforts to pull me back into gringo non-tradition and stick with the oferta and the posada.

Anonymous said...

Hi Billie Sue,
It's your cuz' from "God's Country" of Louisiana!!! I agree with you about starting advertise Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas before 4th of July and Labor Day ever got here!!! I wish I could be there in Mexico to celebrate their Day of the Dead. I know you already know that Halloween came from All Hallo's Eve before All Saint's Day on November 1 and All Soul's Day on November 2 which we honor and remember our deceased loved ones...but the Methodist in me thinks we should honor and remember them all year long!!!

I've really enjoyed your blogs and am learning lots about your adopted home. Maybe one day I will be able to come that way...especially since you told me about Palm Sunday activities.

Right now we're trying to get through Hurrican Gustav and hope and pray it doesn't come our way but am sure it will...

Give Ned a hug and kiss! I still have that picture of Ned and me that you took before I went into the monastery...we looked so young!

Have a happy day!
Peace, dotye

Billie said...

I don't have your email address. You'll find mine over on the side of the blog. Send me an email and let's "talk." Please take care and let's pray that everyone survives Gustav.

islagringo said...

As of Sept 2, there were no Christmas decorations to be found in Minnesota or Wisconsin. Lots of halloween though! I agree that stores are just pushing holidays to soon and too hard. We are starting to get trick or treaters on the island. They start Oct 30 and end sometime in the middle of November! When I ask them why they are asking me for candy, they have no idea!

islagringo said...

Forgot to say. Protesting against anything in Mexico is a dangerous act. We are here as visitors and are not supposed to interfere in Mexico business or politics. I've heard too many horror stories. Besides, I did not move here to interfere in anything.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.