Sunday, February 18, 2024

Carnaval in San Martín Tilcajete

Devil at carnaval San Martín Tilcajete

We drove in the morning an hour from our village of San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, to experience Carnaval in San Martín Tilcajete, a town located about 20 miles from Oaxaca City. The annual event is a vibrant celebration that combines pre-Hispanic Zapotec traditions with Catholic rituals. Festivities, known as the "Dance of the Devils," take place in the lead-up to Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) and feature revelers running through the town in costume, with their bodies covered in oil or paint, wearing devilish and otherworldly handmade masks. The colors used in the body paint have symbolic meanings: black represents the underworld, yellow represents the earthly world, and red represents infinity.

Street at carnaval San Martín Tilcajete

The tradition of Carnaval in San Martín Tilcajete has been passed down through generations and includes parades, dances, and a satirical wedding. The dancers, known as Aceitados, or "the oiled ones," traditionally only included men, but since the mid-1990s, women have also participated. The celebration is deeply rooted in the local culture, where each person is believed to have a spirit animal assigned at birth, which is represented in the costumes during Carnaval.

The Bride, Carnaval in San Martín Tilcajete

Carnaval in San Martín Tilcajete

Carnaval in San Martín Tilcajete

We had been warned not to wear nice clothes because revelers have been known to dirty the onlookers, many of whom are tourists. I was wary of even slight damage to my expensive camera, especially since I get in close for my best shots.

Carnaval in San Martín Tilcajete

In the end, we had a fabulous time and although the celebrations were raucous, they were constrained and mostly courteous.


Amy bought a couple alebrije she could not resist . . . though we had our eye on some that were way more expensive.  

Definitely we will go again next year.

No comments: