USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Fiesta’
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Rituals, festivals, holidays

Fiesta San Antonio

TO is a junior at the University of Southern California, and spent most of her childhood in San Antonio, TX.

TO described a popular festival that took place in her hometown:

“Fiesta is just a giant celebration held right around now in San Antonio, and it’s supposed to celebrate the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. The whole thing is really colorful: people wear colorful clothes and decorate everything with bright flowers, and they have these things called cascarones, which are hollow eggs filled with confetti that you’d crack on e=people’s heads. They also have this ‘Battle of Flowers’ parade, where they literally have a calvary, and they pick a bunch of local girls to be ‘princesses.’ The princesses wear these huge colorful gowns covered in flowers with really long trains, and they each ride on a float.”

I asked TO if having the parade in her hometown made it less special over the years:

“A bit, yeah. The whole thing was really fun but I didn’t really participate much. The public schools would always get school off on the day of the Battle of the Flowers, like it was a holiday, but I never did. I was always a little weirded out by the princesses, and I knew a couple girls who participated in that, but I was never really interested. You had to be a part of a very old San Antonio family to be in it, and honestly be pretty wealthy. It kind of had a debutante ball vibe, like you were presenting yourself to Texas society.”

My analysis:

Fiesta San Antonio sounds a lot like other festivals around the world, with parades, cavalry and a princess “court.” This had it’s own Texas coloring though, and as someone from southern California I’d never heard of most of these traditions, or things like the cascarones. It was interesting to learn about the vivid relationship the city has with the Texas Revolution, and it almost makes San Antonio seem like a different kid of American city – the old Mexican influence is still very prevalent there, unlike a more modern influence in Los Angeles. The local history clearly still impacts citizens today, but the novelty can wear off after awhile for people like TO.

Festival
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Fiesta, Santa Barbara

Informant: “So, Fiesta’s a cool thing in Santa Barbara that it’s, like, this week in August where the entire town just agrees that they just wanna get really drunk and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ Um, I think they have a couple of events that’s meant to celebrate our Spanish history because we were founded by Saint Barbara or… (scoffs)

I think it’s meant to celebrate becoming sort of the town that it is today so, and celebrating our Spanish tradition, so a lot of people will, like, just go to all the bars and get really drunk because that’s how they interpret Fiesta, um, And it’s always really funny because State Street, like, our big street, is just filled with confetti and als— cause, do you know what cascarones are? They’re these– the eggs that they hollow out and then they fill with confetti. So they’re hollowed out confetti eggs and you crack– you are supposed to crack them in your hands, this is a lesson I learned, you crack them in your hand and then you just go like this (he rubs the palm of his hand in a circle on the top of his head) and put it on people’s hair. And there’s confettis everywhere so State Street is just littered in confetti because it falls everywhere, like, Starbucks, ugh– over the summer, so much confetti to sweep up, disaster. It turns into a disaster zone over the summer. But if you crack the eggs without cracking them in your hand first, like you just try to put it on people’s heads, the shells are a lot harder than you think and they’ll just… hurt people. So that’s an important thing. But cascarones are a huge thing. And then we have a lot of flamenco dancing that goes on which is amazing. Um, yeah, it’s, like, some of the biggest flamencoing stuff goes on in Santa Barbara, outside of Spain, um, and, yeah. They have all of this, like, the spirit of the fiesta which goes to one of the young flamenco dancers and there’s this whole culture there that I never even knew about. Um and a lot of traditions about flamencoists and stuff which is really cool, um, but one thing I found really interesting about Fiesta is how mixed it got with the Mexican culture because of, just of, our city has kind of a, uh, em, decently sized Mexican population so there’s always, like, mariachi bands playing and stuff which isn’t at all related to Spain. I mean, like, it’s Latin America versus Spain so, like, there’s a really interesting confused mix of, like, Mexican versus Spanish culture and everyone just kind of accepts it. Which, like, the analyst inside of me is just, like, I wonder what’s significant about that about globalization, about, like, people wearing sombreros and thinking, like, you know this is a Spanish thing versus, like, a Mexican thing so that, that was always, like, something I’ve gotten into as I got older. Because as a kid it was like ‘Confetti, hey!’ and now I’m just, like, what are the implications now of, like, this mixed culture. Um, but for the most part, like, it’s pretty Spanish and we celebrate, like, we have streets called, we have a street called De La Guerra which translates into, like, ‘from the war.’ Uh, and that’s a pretty historic street for us and that turns into kind of like a little market with lots of Spanish food being served and, um, it’s a big, it’s a big just part– it’s a week of party; it’s amazing. So. That’s I guess sort of a tradition… And drunk people knock on lots of people’s doors and ask to use their bathrooms. That’s what my friend hates about Fiesta. Constant music, constant drunk people…”

Lavelle: “Trying to use your bathrooms?”

Informant: “Trying to use your bathrooms.”

Lavelle: “That’s really funny.”

Informant: “Yeah, pretty brazen.”

My informant is a native of Santa Barbara, California and he has been aware of the celebration of Fiesta for many years. He enjoyed it innocently as a child and it’s always been a tradition he looks forward to during the summer. My informant loves Santa Barbara and the traditions the community has. My informant has also begun to question some of the practices that are accepted at Fiesta, the drunken escapades most specifically. Also, my informant is interested in learning more about how Mexican culture was infused into this Spanish tradition.

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