Festivals, Dance and Traditions at Quintana Roo

Dance of the pig’s head

The most widespread celebrations in the state are the carnivals held before Lent in February or March in all the municipalities. The Festival of La Santa Cruz, (The Holy Cross), is held in May in several municipalities, especially those of the Maya and Cozumel areas. Religious holidays, such as the Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), in November, the Tres Reyes (The Three Kings) in January and those corresponding to the patron saint of the various localities, are also celebrated.

In the municipalities of the Maya area, traditional Mayan religious festivals such as the Lol Cah, in which the people are blessed and recite Mayan prayers; The Planting of the Ceiba, which is the sacred tree; and also offerings to the rain god, Chac, to prevent droughts, etc.

In recent years, in almost all municipalities, the Caribbean Cultural Festival has been celebrated, in which arts groups from other states of the country and countries of the Caribbean Basin take part.

In the main tourist centers are traditional sport fishing contests and sailing races. The Quintana Roo folklore, which is little known, is influenced by three areas in which their neighborhoods or their internal conformation gives them different characteristics. In the north, the influence of the state of Yucatán is felt in the music, dance (jarana), festivals (livestock), etc.

In the downtown area, the Mayan community with its preserved traditions gives the purest and oldest representation of the Mayan folklore through music: the "Maya Pax", their clothing, their dances and also through songs of religious ritual.

The southern area, with a more recent population, is dominated by the musical genre of Bruckdown, brought from Belize by the first settlers of Chetumal and which became the Zambay or celebrational music of Zambos, as it is known to the locals. This evolved in modern times into the Zambay Macho, which is played with its own physiognomy with accordion, guitar and violin. However, nowadays Reggae and Calypso, which are Caribbean rhythms, are liked the most.

The people of Quintana Roo, like every other, have a culture which appears as a social response to the challenge of surviving and is made known through its folklore. Such customs are externalized in their unique characteristics in celebrations that summarize the feelings of pain and joy of the creole and mestizo peoples, who sing and dance for whichever social, popular or religious event. The dances reveal the daily tasks of different social groups, with dances such as sones and jaranas.

With these considerations, we wish only to express concerns that have arisen from a desire to rescue and build our identity, which allows us to have unmistakable regional characteristics presented below in more detail:

Procession - A solemn religious walk, accompanied by singing and music. It is traditionally performed each year. In it one sings the "alabado" hymn to Christ the King, and at the end candles are lit, leaving a very dignified sight to be seen.

Dance of the pig’s head - During prehispanic times, this dance was part of one of the offerings dedicated to the gods. Currently it is performed in honor of the local patron saint, preserving the same essence, but with greater religious attachment.

The pasacalle - Is a slow dance in three quarter time from the 1950s, which is performed by the high and wealthy social classes. It is characterized by an extremely elegant rhythm where the variant valseado step predominates with a crossover step inflected with alternating kicks without losing composure.

The calabaceado – Is a lively eight beat dance from the 1950s and also performed by the high social classes

The Fandango - Is a cheerful dance which is very common in Spain, and consists of various rhythms which are danced in combination with jarana steps. In our peninsula jaranas is the dance genre that dominates the three states, although in each state they differ in the way they are performed.

Jarana Quintanarroense - Is a dance arising from the fusion of native, religious and secular sounds. Besides having agile and elegant steps, due to this mixture of these sounds, with the invasion of the great Andalusian Canova, it also incorporates the “valseado” accent of the jota Aragon dance. Nevertheless, jaranas are the dances that dominate in the peninsula of Yucatan. In each of the states, the jarana is characterized by its embodiment.

Dance of the gum workers - This dance shows the characteristic fun ways of the gum workers, somewhat sullen rough men working in the jungle in so called camps. Gum workers showed the characteristic form of entertainment in which just one woman danced with them. Without fail, anyone who would take advantage or offend would be challenged to a duel with machetes, which would almost always satisfy or appease. This dance has as its background the Brok Dow that was brought to our lands acquiring unique characteristics.

Sambay macho - According to some people this is the infatuation of the male dragonfly with the female. Others say that it is a dance of strength, which is believable because of the vitality of its rhythm and speed of its movements.

The popurrí - As its name suggests, this is a combination of the most characteristic dances that came to this region, mixing Mexican melodies and sounds that end with the famous "degollete".

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