Santa Fe has the distinction of being the oldest Capitol in the United States and also has the distinction of having America’s oldest community celebration. This year, Fiesta de Santa Fe is celebrating it’s 307th year. What fortune for us to be here during this week-long celebration, culminating this weekend with food and music all day in the Plaza, a special processional, Solemn Mass of Fiestas, parades and closing with an evening Mass of Exaltation of the Holy Cross with a candlelight procession to the Cross of the Martyrs.
The history is interesting. Rather than I write about it, here is a brief description.
Saturday morning we walk over to the Plaza and are able to see a bit of the Pet & Children Parade. An hour-long parade of people with their pets, some dressed up, some not and various schools and community organizations walking with their signs, pets and throwing candy to the children watching the parade. We’ve never seen so many families in a parade and enjoying a parade in our lives – a true community!
In the Plaza there’s the food and music festival. Navajo Tacos are one of Lynn’s favorites. Never saw Ribbon Fries before, didn’t think my stomach could handle those. Live Music and lots of interesting dress intermingled with the regular tourists.
An art fair along the side streets keeps us walking around for most of the morning and into the afternoon. We also stopped into the New Mexico Contemporary Native Art Museum – more on that in another blog.
At night we venture back to hear more of the local musicians and watch people dance in the street and eat. A great family time! I will also add, no where was there any liquor for sale – no beer or wine. They have kept it out of the festivities. Viva without drunkenness.
Today, Sunday, we walk to The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi to attend the Solemn Mass. Little did we know this is THE MASS to attend.
There is a huge processional that enters the church – first the Spaniards – Don Diego DeVargas and his other Conquistadora with their lovely wives, led by a Cross with feathers hanging from it with Mariachi musicians playing their instruments.
Next, a man carrying the banner of the Virgin Mary statue.
Followed by the ‘actual’ Virgin Mary statue carried in front of the the Bishop and Priests and townspeople coming in to the church. Quite a processional!! I put my video out on YouTube – https://youtu.be/nAnIqciF5k8
The Mass is held with a mix of Spanish songs and Native American songs (with drum accompaniment) and traditional Christian liturgy.
Before the mass ends, a group of Native American Indians arrive, dancing in costume to the beat and chant of a drummer, down the aisle, up to the front of the church. They perform a 10 minute dance in front of the Spaniards who are in the front rows and of course the Bishop and Priests who are sitting up by the altar. Oh, and all the saints were looking on too! We presume this is a peace dance. Posted the video I took on You Tube – https://youtu.be/tn1P4bMDLTc
The dancers then dance all the way out of the church. Wow! This was really something to see!
The mass ended with the normal benediction and blessing a final song, “Madre De La Iglesias/Mother of the Church.”
Outside the Native American Indians and the Spaniards are waiting as the church empties – of course photo op!
Finally the afternoon parade –
The Georgia O’Keefe folks asked me to join them in the parade LOL
Low rider cars are really big here for some reason. The low riders came just before the end of the parade and the cowboys – yippee yi yo!!
Quite a festival! We’ve been around the world and yet there is something about the US and all the different cultures blended to make an amazing Americana experience.