Several big festivals are instrumental in preserving local folkways. They start off on New Year’s Day and resume during the weeks of Cuaresma (Lent), usually during February and March. Favorite dances, such as Los Tejerones (Weavers), Los Chareos, Los Moros (The Moors), and Las Chilenas, act out age-old events, stories, and fables. Los Tejerones, for example, through a cast of animal-costumed characters, pokes fun at ridiculous Spanish colonial rules and customs.
Soon after, Jamiltepec people celebrate their very popular pre-Easter (week of Ramos) festival, featuring neighborhood candlelight processions accompanied by antique 18th-century music. Hundreds of the faithful bear elaborate wreaths and palm decorations to the foot of their church altars on Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday).
Later, merrymaking peaks again, between July 23 and 26 during the Fiesta de Santiago Apóstol (Festival of St. James the Apostle) and on September 11 with a festival honoring the Virgen de los Remedios. All this celebrating centers in the town church, the Templo de Santiago Apóstol, destroyed by a 1928 earthquake but brilliantly restored from 1992 to 1999, using the same method as the original Dominican padres, who supervised the 16th-century construction of mortar, strengthened with egg yolks. Take a look inside, where the town patron Santiago (St. James, sword in hand) and the Virgen de Los Remedios (Virgin of the Remedies) preside above the altar.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition