The Ajijic patron saint festivities are planned to run for two weeks, from Monday, November 20th through Friday, December 1st.
Not to miss a beat, the biggest event of the year in Ajijic – the San Andres Fiesta – starts the 20th! There will be morning, noon, and night cohetes (sky rockets), church bells. and possibly bands in the streets to announce the masses that will be held. Various processions will proceed from different neighborhoods on different days, at different times of the day, depending. Patron Saint Fiestas are funded and organized by different groups of the townspeople each day, and each will have their own unique presentation. Each night, there will be procession to the church at 6:30 for the 7 pm Mass. The last night of the fiesta is sponsored by the Absent Sons – those who have gone to the US to work and send money home to their families, and is always the biggest night of the fiesta with the plaza packed with young adults who haven’t seen each other in a while – a very joyous occasion.
Nov. 21 is the feast day of Saint Cecelia, patron of music, so there will be extra classical and other music performances at the church in the evening. The excitement gradually builds every night until the actual Feast Day of San Andres on November 29.
There will be street closures during the fiesta around the plaza and church to accommodate various vending stands and kids’ rides. The Calle Zaragoza bus will not be dropping into town; you’ll need to go to the carretera to catch the westbound bus.
Each night starting around 8 or 9 pm after the evening Mass, from the 20th to the 29th, the feast day of San Andres, there will be bands performing in the plaza for your dancing pleasure, food, drinks, rides, and a different castillo will be constructed and lit each night around 10:30 or 11 in front of the church along with with more fireworks. Castillos are structures like scaffolding which will be wired with many sizzling, spinning, sparkly things. They defy description – you simply have to see them; during the afternoons, they will be under construction by fearless young men – a fascinating sight to see in itself. Then the music and dancing usually continue past midnight.
The whole event is off the Richter scale of fun, especially at night. If you don’t live right in Ajijic, be aware that the above is the standard Patron Saint Fiesta routine for every Catholic Church and/or town in Mexico. These fiestas are attended by most of the people in town – all ages, from babies to kids, to teens and young adults, to parents and honored grandparents. There is wonderful family fun for people of all ages! Babies and toddlers often sleep in the plaza right in their parents’ arms while the bigger kids enjoy the festivities.
Andrew was the first disciple of Christ. He was originally a follower of John the Baptist but started to follow Jesus when John said “Behold the Lamb of God!” He brought his brother Simon (St. Peter) who also converted to Christ.
Originally fishermen, the brothers were asked to follow Jesus full time and told they would be “fishers of men.” St Andrew went to Greece to preach the gospel after Christ was killed. He too was eventually crucified and was said to have suffered for two days on the cross. Andrew is the Patron Saint of both Scotland and Russia as well as the town of Ajijic in Mexico.
The Ajijic fiestas happen from November 21th to the 30th each year, whose saint is San Andrés (Saint Andrew) and is celebrated on the last day. Each of the other days is taken by established guilds in town. Musicians, farmers, masons, absent children, gardeners, among others.
Each group is in charge of their day, thus complementing nine days of intense celebration in the town, each one giving it a special touch. The days begin with rockets in the morning and band music that continues during the day until night when the square is revived with more live music, food and drink stands, canelitas, cantaritos and the famous gorditas de nata, mechanical rides for all ages, varied vendors, and the castillo (a tower structure with firewoks) at the end, although the party usually continues until late hours.
Traditionally people used to walk around in the square where the women walked in one direction while the men walked in opposite direction and so it was a way to court women. If a boy liked a certain girl, on the way around he would offer her a flower hoping she would accept it. Nowadays people still walk around in the square although it is not like before, but it is still fun to go hang out, eat, drink, dance, and have a good time.
Nine days of celebration, rockets, music, food, and fun for the whole family!
This year the fiestas will continue until December 3!!
By Amanda Murray Art