Merida’s Carnival will have place from the 10th to 17th of February with virtual activities for this new reality, not under the traditional format that gathered thousands of families in the fairground Xmatkuil.
With the slogan “Con el Carnaval en el corazón”, it will include activities that don’t imply a risk for public health in the healthy relaxation.
According to Merida’s municipality, this year’s format will allow to significantly reduce the money designated to the Carnival (only the necessary cost for its operation, according the approved by the Committee), but without depriving the population of the Merida’s traditional party.
The activity program will include the opening and closure events, like the Quema de Mal Humor and the Entierro de Juan Carnaval, in digital transmissions to avoid the congregation of people.
The new format will include “hybrid activities”, in other words, it will have public activities but the health protocol will be taken care of. There will be information about the activities in the Ayuntamiento’s social media and official webpage http://www.merida.gob.mx
The Comité Permanente del Carnaval considers that despite the economic crisis and pandemic, “it’s necessary and healthy to enjoy momentos of joy and diversion, in a safe way and without going out home”.
According to the chroniclers of the city, Merida’s carnivals began in 1578. The General Captain of Yucatán’s Provincia, Guillermo de las Casas, began this festivities and the firsts points in the Yucatecan capital were they were celebrated were the Plaza Grande, the Portales de Granos and the perimeter of Mejorada and Santa Ana areas.
Whilst Merida receives influences from other points to begin its carnivals, it’s important to clarify that mayan culture also made parties and shindigs to celebrate the “burial of the sin”.
In his stories, Diego de Landa says: “… th major lords, hoples, yumiles and priests and with them the people from the town, would gather to celebrate the party of the 10 Ahuac, until the first day of the month Yaxkin. In that time, they were making charades and going around the houses to receive offerings, that they would put in the temple and were distributed at the end of the Chi-Keban (the burial of sin) as they called their legendary ritual”.
Carnivals in Merida are heavily marked by very different influences, but really close to the syncretism of the yucatecas parties, as it’s the only one in the world that has a night, a carnival Monday dedicated to its roots and origins, mixing folklore and the Yucatecan people’s presence in the parties and parades.
Its boom is born in the Colony, when Yucatecan governors set the tone in the introduction of these celebrations in party halls and city’s suburbs, to bring the population closer to the different ways of living that in those times were settling in to find an identity between the marked social groups and that only mixed in those days of festivities and fun.
They have a strong influence in the cuban festivities, always very happy and emotive, colorful and erotic. The firsts festivities of the cuban carnival date back to 1550, when they arrive to the Caribbean islands the first slaved women from Africa. The strength of the African cultures, rhythms, instruments and ways of expression set the standard in the dances and presentations, a lot of it comes to Merida in the 18th century.
The carnival is a popular party. Originally it was a disorganized celebration, people used to observe from their homes lots of cars with groups of people, usually young people, that would have fun throwing colored paper or party poppers, flowers or confetti.
In the middle of the 20th century they established an organization in parades and presentation routes, the streets, the routes and suburbs that would maintain the course. The City Council took charge of this organization and the social groups included a committee. This allowed a better presence and showcasing and, mainly, precaution and safety.
In the last decades of the 20th century, the parades set the standard with more exotic garments, dance groups and escorts were much more intense, a product very possibly from the rise of fashion, new ways of life and external influence.
It would split the city in two, because its path covered downtown, the 60 street, from San Juan to the Monumento a la Patria, but since 2014 the Xmatkuil fairground was rearranged, to complete more comfy and safe spaces to the thousands of visitors that go each one of the four nights and two days of parades and dances.
The carnival moves the economy with dances, drink sales, food, candy, fruits and countless products, masks, costumes, musical instruments. But the drink companies and breweries took ownership of the business and the trade mark competition established new “fashion” mechanisms, to present themselves in the public’s taste, perverting somehow the festivity of the flesh, that, without COVID-19, became an economical festivity.