Despite this (and probably anticipating a low turn-out of kids on Monday), the school where I work had its Independence celebration "event" on Friday. That meant lots more missed classes - but, hey!
They packed quite a lot of activities into the event. First, there was the "Honours to the flag" ceremony that schools usually have every Monday, involving the Honour Guard marching with the flag and everyone singing the national anthem and saluting the flag. This kind of patriotism seemed very strange to me when I first saw it many years ago, we don't have anything like it in Britain, except in the military, I think.
After that, some university professors came to talk about an indigenous language from this region that they are trying to rescue from the brink of extinction: Otomí Hñähñu. Two ladies who are native speakers of the language were also invited and told us about how the younger generation only understand the language but hardly speak it anymore and don't really value it as a part of their culture. They also showed us the beautiful garments they make by hand (each piece taking around four months to make, then sold much too cheaply). They make these dolls, too.
Then we all trooped back up to the basketball court where a musical trio was waiting. They were playing a style of music from the Huasteca region, called Huapango, which is very fast-moving and can include some improvisation. The lyrics can be quite irreverent - one song, somewhat inappropriately, had lyrics about which is the best liquor! A company of dancers dressed in traditional outfits from the Huasteca accompanied them and the atmosphere was all very festive.
I wonder what the students really thought about it. For the non-Mexicans, it must have been something very different and novel at least, but how much are Mexican teenagers interested in the traditional elements of their own culture?
After the festivities, we had recess, then normal classes for the last couple of hours - which was pretty much impossible, since they'd also been asked to decorate their classrooms for Mexican Independence and were competing to have the best-decorated classroom, so I just had to give up on the idea of giving a normal class.
For me, this is still a foreign culture, but my daughter will grow up with all these festivities being part of her culture. I wonder, will she feel more Mexican than British?
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