Fiestas and Fireworks
SMA's Unusual Personality

by Joseph Toone

My father was born on the kitchen table of a five story walk-up in Harlem during the 1920’s Renaissance. My mother hailed from a paper mill town and as anyone who has simply driven by a paper mill town knows they smell like Satan’s toilet. I lucked out growing up in Hershey, PA, surround by the aroma of chocolate kisses. My kids experienced life on a tiny island town in the Atlantic with the odors of marshes, the ocean and alligator filled lagoons.

Towns, like people, all have their unique personalities, and claims to fame. In Mexico it is no different. Towns are known for their musical instruments, opals, cliff diving... Perhaps the most unusual personality for a town is associated with our city, San Miguel de Allende, known as being a living monument to Mexican history and faith expressed in fiestas.

Unlike many museum towns, laced with historical gems, our town is exciting. For countless visitors and artists San Miguel has become a mecca, drawing visitors with a live gaiety that is also perfect for canvas and camera. In addition to visual charm, natural beauty and a benign climate, the town features world-class hotels, restaurants and night spots. Add in art and language schools, concerts, cultural events, dancing, horses, pyramids, cave art, underground tunnels.. The list of activities goes on and on. Anyone with interests ranging from doll house furniture making to reading auras will find likeminded folks here.

Then, of course, there are the churches and their festivals which really brings the town to life. Fiestas, it is often said, is San Miguel’s major industry. The town’s six patron saints are simply not going to throw their own parties.

As far back as 1789 the local government tried to abolish some of these faith-based fiestas, with no success. Recently, I stumbled upon the writings of an ex-pat written back in the "Dark Ages," otherwise known as the year I was born. Even then, a half century ago, resident foreigners were complaining about the fireworks. The fireworks are testament to our frequent fiestas being renowned throughout the county and world.

The fiestas are deeply moving religious processions with pomp and exuberance provided by dancers of all types (indigenous, folklore, pop music, comic...) Toss in singers, giant puppets, boxing matches, mechanical rides and all types of food and who would ever want the party to end, even with the pesky fireworks?

These seemingly endless fiestas add testament to the notion that culture is not found in great works of art, but in the gestures we make in daily living. And in living we realize fiestas are not a luxury, but a necessity in having a successful life.

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Joseph Toone is Amazon's bestselling author of the San Miguel de Allende Secrets series of books and TripAdvisor's best rated historical walking tour guide. For more information contact toone.joseph@yahoo.com or visit History and Culture Walking Tours or JosephTooneTours.com, also on FaceBook.

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