Tag Archives: Oaxaca

Oaxacan Legend

TEXT: “Una vez, en mi pueblo, había una niña bonita y joven. Tenia como dieciséis anos. Ella se enamoro de un hombre muy viejo. El hombre tenia como cincuenta y estaba todo gastado por la vida. Todos en el pueblo le dijeron que no salga con el pero ella deicidio vivir con el. Despise de un tiempo, la niña se empezó a very muy vieja. Le salieron arrugas y su pelo se hizo feo y seco. Empiezo a actuar amargada y cansada. A cambio, el hombre salía y cada día se veía mejor. Empiezo a caminar mas derecho, su piel resaltaba y su pelo se oscurezco. Tenia mas humor y actuaba mas joven.”


CONTEXT: Female, 42, Oaxacan

ANALYSIS: This woman is from a pueblo in Oaxaca. We were discussing a relationship between a woman and man with a very large age gap. She then told me this myth. I asked about the origin and validity and discovered it was a myth that is told to girls when they want to date older men. It is used to discourage inappropriate relationships but also to point out the psychological occurrence of chameleonizing within a relationship. She said her aunt told this to her when she was young and an older man was courting her in her village. It worked and she decided not to go out with him.

TRANSLATION: “Once, in my village, there was a pretty and young girl. She was about sixteen years old. She fell in love with a very old man. The man was about fifty and was all worn out by life. Everyone in town told her not to go out with him but she decided to live with him. After a while, the girl started to get very very old. She got wrinkles and her hair became ugly and dry. She start to act bitter and tired. In return, the man went out and looked better every day. He began to walk more straight, his skin stood out and his hair darkened. He had more humor and acted younger.”

THOUGHTS: I think this myth obviously very dated and I can see the tactics used to instill fear or a bias around taboo relationships. While I think we now live in a modern world where nothing is as rigid and there is room for experimentation I do understand the psychological aspect portrayed here and can see why its use would be employed.

La Guelaguetza


The informant is an acquaintance of my father, and in a previous vacation invited us to watch “La Guelaguetza,” a performance of the many different tribes in Oaxaca and their folk dances. I made some time during my Spring Break to ask him about the festival once more.


Interviewer: Back in 2014, you invited my family and I to the festival of “La Guelaguetza” in Oaxaca. Would you be able to tell me about it, and why it’s such a significant festival.


Informant: Yes, gladly! For starters, I myself am originally from Oaxaca, and came to Mexico City to pursue my career as a lawyer. However, much of my family is actually native mexican, like many in Oaxaca. I make an effort to go back every July to watch the festival. “La Guelaguetza” is a festival where many different cultures come together to perform their folk dances, because Oaxaca has many different native cultures, not just Zapoteca. The festival spans almost a week full of plays and performances, but the most important part of it all is at the end of the event… In an open theatre, the different groups all perform folk dances, to music unique to each culture, donning their traditional clothes. Most if not all dances are for couples, a man and a woman. Probably the most famous dance is the “hat dance,” but there are many others.


(Note: The hat dance involves the man placing his sombrero between him and the woman, with both of them dancing around it in until they meet.)


Interviewer: Yeah, I remember the dances being very unique, but what I remember the most is almost getting knocked out by a mezcal pot during the festival. Could you also talk about the food at “La Guelaguetza?”


Informant: (laughs) Of course, of course. “Guelaguetza” is actually a Zapoteca word, which roughly translates to “sharing of gifts.” Other than sharing their music and dances, “La Guelaguetza” is also the place where everyone shares their native foods… but not in a buffet or a restaurant. They actually give samples of the foods in the middle of the dance performances.


Interviewer: They pass out the food in a very… uhm… unique manner, do they not?


Informant: Indeed, it would be extremely complicated and would most definitely interrupt the dance if they tried giving samples to such a huge crowd, so the performers often opt to throw their items into the crowd! Most of the time they’ll bring a type of sweet bread, but you can also expect mole negro, tamales, and yes, even pots of natively brewed mezcal to be thrown your way. “La Guelaguetza” is so significant for Oaxaca because it celebrates all the cultural diversity in the state by bringing us all together through music, dance, and food.


A video of “Jarabe Mixteco” (lit. Mixteco Syrup) one of the more well known dances performed at “La Guelaguetza”