MEXICO CITY – Carnival festivities began all over Mexico on Thursday, featuring a celebration of color, music, diversity, tradition and floats.
The week-long festival is one last chance to frolic and feast before the 40-day-long Lenten period, and traditions vary from state to state.
Mexico’s most popular carnival takes place in Veracruz and dates back to the 19th century, during the brief reign of Austrian Emperor Maximilian I in the country, although some historians trace the celebration back several decades to when people walked the streets wearing masks.
The celebration ends on Feb. 14 with the burial of Juan Carnaval, a humorous character.
In the central state of Tlaxcala, the celebration features colorful characters like the “charros” – wearing wooden masks and feathered hats; the “catrines,” representing a critique of the European bourgeoisie of the 17th and 18th centuries; and the “chivarrudos” wrapped in goat pelts.
Music is a key element that distinguishes the carnival taking place in the Pacific resort city of Mazatlan from the rest of the country.
Banda music, a genre popular in northern Mexico, is ubiquitous during the week, but one can also hear rock & roll, boleros, a slow-tempo kind of Latin music, ballads, mariachi and “chirrines,” a three-piece norteño music ensemble.
During the carnival in Merida, a city in the Yucatan Peninsula, after the “burning of the bad mood,” every day is referred to by a festive name: Corso Friday, Fantasy Saturday, Bachata Sunday and Regional Monday.
Flower Battle Tuesday is marked by a parade, which this year will feature 14 floats and 73 troupes.
Mexico’s Carnival festivities end on Ash Wednesday.