And February arrived, the new year has taken its first step, and begins to walk and the best example of this is the beautiful festivity that is celebrated every February 2 in the beautiful city called Tlacotalpan in the State of Veracruz, of course in Mexico .
It is about the celebration of the Virgen de la Candelaria; celebration that frames much more than great music, wonderful dances and exquisite food. In the festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria in Tlacotalpan, all the different characteristics that have given rise to the very essence of what it is to the present, the thinking, acting and feeling of all Mexicans, come together.
Tlacotalpan is by itself a fascinating city. Despite being small and relatively sparse, it is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage City because of its physical beauty and its folkloric and historical characteristics. Trying to describe it in this small space is an impossible task, but without a doubt I leave to you, kind readers, the open space to let you know that if you are interested in deepening the subject, it will be enough to let me know and I will gladly provide you with the information is required

For now, I will limit myself to describing very briefly the general context that holds such a celebration in such a magnificent place.
The celebration of the candelaria is celebrated every February 2 in various places of Mexico, in fact it can be considered a date in which the conscience of all Mexicans is reunited in each family in order to eat the delicious tamales that had been committed in the previous celebration consisting of the “game of the rosca de los Reyes Magos”. But this time I will speak only about the celebration of the Virgin of La Candelaria in Tlacotalpan.

In Mexico, hundreds of traditional festivals are celebrated every year throughout its territory. Each town, each city, each State and the whole country is periodically enveloped in the festive and generally religious atmosphere of those special dates and in this context, the fiesta of La Candelaria in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, certainly illustrates in a very specific way the thinking and the feeling of the great majority of those who call ourselves Mexicans. Here is gathered everything that can contain a very complete celebration: pain and pleasure, happiness and sadness, passion and peace, full frivolity and honesty, laughter and tears, color and darkness, dance, food and drink, history and traditions, rhythm and singing … In short, everything a complete party can include.

The event starts promptly at midnight on the first of January with traditional musicians accompanied by thousands of people who fervently enter the church of Tlacotalpan to sing the typical “mañanitas” to the virgin de la candelaria. There they pray, celebrate Masses and sing for several hours. Already in the middle of February 2, very early families of fishermen board their boats, small and large, and take to the waters of the beautiful Papaloapan river, which means in Nahuatl, “river of the butterflies”, where they receive the great boat where the effigy of the Virgen de la Candelaria who will lead the solemn aquatic procession along the river bank in which there is no lack of religious praise and joyful songs that interpret with unique style the inhabitants of this region of Mexico.

At the conclusion of the procession, the Virgin is brought to her original room, on the main altar of the church, and the traditional “herding” of the bulls is passed, crossing them from the pastures on the other side of the river. the very streets of the city of Tlacotalpan in order that they run freely through them, while they are provoked by some reckless men and women (often emboldened by the consumption of alcohol), who sometimes end up with severe physical injuries. This activity is carried out as an analogy “to the Mexican” of the traditional Spanish celebration of San Fermín.

When this event ends, there is a space for food, which traditionally consists of fish and seafood prepared in the style of the place, tortillas and wonderful sauces, without missing the fresh waters of natural fruits and the delicious typical drink of this region; “Los toritos”, which are prepared with brandy combined with peanuts, jobo and guanábana served with a lot of ice, which refreshes those who consume it before the strenuous heat, characteristic of this beautiful area of ​​the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Arriving at night, in the main public squares of Tlacotalpan, already with the people immersed in the atmosphere of the party, the stages and wooden platforms are prepared and the musicians (jaraneros) come into action, who will perform songs and songs all night long. traditional sounds of Veracruz while men and women of all ages sing and dance on the platforms to the rhythm of their music which is perceived in the magical atmosphere that surrounds the entire city of Tlacotalpan.


This is how the night of the Virgen de la Candelaria happens quickly. On the morning of day three, very early still sound in some corners the verses and verses of the jaraneros, and you hear zapateados and laughter … you see people very tired walking through the square with a glass of “torito” in hand . Thus ends the great celebration … that’s how the party ends and Tlacotalpan, Veracruz and Mexico declare themselves ready to face what this new year has for all Mexicans.

Enrique Guzmán


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