Okay, no, I am not actually advocating crashing a wedding. But when the wedding, as with many celebrations in the state of Oaxaca becomes a community event, well, why not partake in the fun? If you’re in the area, consider yourself invited and welcomed to join in the celebratory wedding processional known as a calenda.
My late lunch of guacamole and chardonnay was interrupted with the every present fireworks. Here, they love to blow things up. The occasion could be “it’s Thursday – let’s shoot off firecrackers… the dog had puppies – let’s shoot off firecrackers….” Well, do you get my drift? When they are directly overhead? Aiyee…. I jump like I’m ducking for cover.
I’m getting to where I can now hear the whistle and anticipate the boom. But I still cringe and jolt like a manic pup on the Fourth of July.
So…. when there is a celebration, such as a calenda – wedding parade – the firecrackers are in force!
From the interior courtyard patio perch where I was celebrating the successful language exchange of my new haircut and blowout with a glass of vino blanco, I could hear a band. I missed a calenda two weeks ago, and this time, I was not about to snooze and lose.
Sure enough, as I approached Santo Domingo, I could see the float and the giant human-like paper mache puppets – monos de calenda – of a bride and groom. Bridal party and wedding guests were dancing along with colorfully costumed dancers and a brass band. Fireworks and fireworks galore!
Tourists gawked and anyone who had a camera suddenly was furiously shooting like it was 2004 and they just saw Brit-Brit and K-Fed. And this is the day I don’t have a camera with me. Of. Course. The wedding party fashioned into the order of the calenda and down the steps and onto the Alcala began the procession for the parade!
Women were dressed in traditional, brightly colorful skirts swirled and swayed with baskets of flowers on their heads. The bride and groom proceeded down the street surrounded by their family and friends. The parade would stop and there would be more dancing, then the procession would continue on down the Alcala.
Musicians’ songs were punctuated by firecrackers whistling and exploding overhead. Mezcal bottles were passed around and everyone – old and young – danced. Bystanders joined in marching alongside and behind the band. Anyone not joining in the actual celebration was stretching and scrambling to take pictures and videos.
Oaxacanos know how to throw a celebration. They can pull off crowded, colorful, loud, and proud without the slightest obnoxious or guise. If you happen to be lucky enough to come across a calenda, stop your agenda and partake in the pleasure of this celebration.
In Oaxaca, every day can be a cause to celebrate. The verve and enthusiasm for life embodied by Oaxacanos is extended in invitation to visitors. You’re only a stranger if you insist on being strange. Otherwise, bienvenidos a Oaxaca!
And congratulations Gloria and Gerardo!!