The Coronavirus pandemic has forced government to curtail all non-essential crowd gatherings, which will put a damper on all local celebrations this year, unfortunately. But for those of you who don’t call this slice of heaven home, I want to open a window into Lake Chapala’s good life, the life you will be able to enjoy post-pandemic.
Every month at Lake Chapala there seem to be celebrations, but the month of May is always loaded with many special celebrations that have everyone in a high-spirited mood. The celebrating kicks off with our youngsters on April 30 with Dia del Ninos (Day of the Children). Anyone residing close to a school cannot help but overhear the excitement, as staff and parents plan a variety of party games and treats for the children. The village administrators in each community then get into the act with early evening family-oriented activities on the town plaza.
May 1 is a national holiday in Mexico as we celebrate Dia del Trabajo (Labor Day), which honors all workers. Every village has a workers’ parade, sponsored by trade unions and the government, that concludes late morning on the plaza with plenty of food, drink and rousing music into the evening. As with most Mexican celebrations, it’s family-style.
Two days later on May 3, we celebrate Dia de la Santa Cruz (Day of the Holy Cross), popularly known here as Construction Workers’ Day. All construction projects are put on hold and construction workers traditionally erect a wooden or metal cross atop a current project they are working on. This symbol represents their desire for divine blessings upon their work and for their safety in the coming year. Often the households and businesses where construction projects are underway will sponsor a meal or party that day for members of the construction crew.
A Mexican holiday that is more popular with the expat community than local Mexicans, is Cinco de Mayo. Ask an expat newcomer about Cinco de Mayo and frequently you’ll hear it is celebrating Mexico’s independence. Mexican Independence Day is actually September 16. Cinco de Mayo recognizes the Battle of Puebla (Batalla de Puebla) when ragtag Mexican troops defeated the more highly-skilled and equipped invading French troops in the State of Puebla in 1863. Other than in Puebla, Cinco de Mayo is often downplayed in Mexico. At Lakeside, you will find Mexican restaurants and businesses promoting the day to host expat parties.
The old saying, “leave the best to last,” captures best the most important of May celebrations: Mother’s Day. North of the border we honor our ladies, mainly our mothers, on the second Sunday in May, but here in Mexico, Mother’s Day is always on May 10. For many expat wives and mothers at Lake Chapala, this offers, most years, two special days to celebrate. They frequently join with the Mexican ladies on May 10 to be honored and then remind their spouse and children that the Second Sunday of May is their traditional day. It is often jokingly commented that dads only have one day, the third Sunday of June, in their honor.
Mexico may be machismo, but come May it becomes very clear that our mothers, the ladies, are the “Queens” of Mexico. This year, May 10 falls on that second Sunday. For several weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, you will see vendors throughout the villages selling small gift suggestions. The retail outlets promote specialty gift displays, but frequently with our Mexican ladies a household gift or appliance is well appreciated. Roadside stands offering floral bouquets and boxes of candy spring up everywhere. Restaurants feature special menu selections or buffets on May 10 and often include live music entertainment with dinner. Often the dining table reflects several generations of ladies honored. In Mexico, family is always a top priority. Even in economically-challenged Mexican homes, daughters and sons plan a special day for the ladies. They put on aprons and take charge of the household chores. Perhaps unable to afford a large family gathering at a restaurant, the family prepares favorite dishes that abuelas (grandmas) and madres (moms) enjoy.
Lake Chapala is a wonderful place if you appreciate family and traditions to celebrate. This is just a sample tasting of May celebrations that reflect the Good Life at Lake Chapala.
Wishing each of you good health and a safe environment wherever you call home.