Matthew Lickona 2:43 p.m., June 19
The Holiday Season gets a late start here in Mexico. Mexicans call Thanksgiving Thursday, everyone goes to work, no football (not real football, anyway) and they serve their turkey chorizo style. I always like my chorizo greasy pork style.
One holiday tradition being introduced to Tijuana is Buen Fin, known as Black Friday in the US. Walmart printed a sale flyer this year and knew that Black Friday probably wouldnít go down well in Mexico so they went with Buen Fin. Fin is short for fin de semana, weekend. Buen Fin stuttered from the start because the Tijuana Walmart doesnít really have low prices when compared to the Walmarts just across the border. 2012 will also be remembered as the year that Walmart Lawyers, after 2000 billable hours of research, informed the Waltons that Black Friday starting on the Friday after Thanksgiving is a tradition not a law. In 2013 I expect Black Friday to start on Thursday. Football, drinking and sleeping on the couch by the third quarter will be replaced by full contact, no holds barred bargain hunting. The phrase ìtwo available at this priceî will encourage some shoppers to make a quick stop in the Walmart sporting goods department before turning bargain hunting into just plain hunting.
Mexico goes all out for Christmas, though. At least, they used to. They used to close 1st street for about four blocks adjacent to the main church downtown for the entire month of December. Swap meet style tents turned to mobile restaurants and toy stores for the length of the street. The smell of Mexican food filled the air. Saliva drooled down onto my shirt. The food fairís proximity to the church was apparently coincidental. Last year the church closed the street in front of itself permanently, paving it over and making a plaza. A place for public art works, small gatherings and events but not a December food fair. The food vendors held a protest in front of the church last year when no permits were sold for the December event. The protesters quickly dispersed when they saw the fire hose coming out.
The holiday season here officially begins on December 16, the first day of Las Posadas. Youíll have to go to Wikipedia for the full story. Iíve only seen Las Posadas a couple of times. A group of about 75-100 people parade through the neighborhood carrying candles and banging drums. Sometimes they carry a statue of their patron saint. One time I saw it during the day and they stopped about every four blocks and put on a short play. They had actors in full costume re-enact the crucifixion procession. I didnít follow them to the end to see if they closed with the crucifixion.
Christmas Eve, Buen Noche, is a flurry of fireworks. Unrestricted and unregulated fireworks sale in Mexico reminds me of my childhood growing up in Kansas. The young kids are starting off with smoke bombs and sparklers. The older kids are having team bottlerocket wars from one end of the street to the other. And somebody is shelling the neighborhood with artillery munitions. At least thatís what it sounds like. From sunset till about 11pm. Firework sales must have been quite brisk this year.
I canít really comment on the Las Posadas. I donít know any real traditional Mexicans. The kind that go to church every Sunday and try to save my soul. Christmas still seems to be a religious holiday here. The stores and shopping areas are not as decked out with holiday decorations as the U.S. The stores arenít pushing big sales. There are a few more street vendors out, more vendors at the Sobre Reudas, swap meets, but other than that you wouldnít really know that it was Christmas. Tijuana has a Walmart. 2 Costcoís, 2 Home Depots, At least 1 Sears, and 7-11 has gone on an expansion spree. And yet, Tijuana has resisted the complete secularization and commercialization of Christmas. I wonder how much longer they can hold out.
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and will have a Happy and Safe New Year.