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San Miguel’s Carnival Sunday Celebrations a Resilient Tradition

By Jesús Aguado

In San Miguel de Allende, we do not have Mardi Gras celebrations like in New Orleans. But we do have thousands of eggshells stuffed with artificial gold, silver, and confetti. We do not have beads or Teddy bears, but colored flowers and dolls in the shape of clowns—they are not thrown at people but instead sold around the Jardín in the run-up to Ash Wednesday.

Our carnival celebrations do not have the crazed exuberance of New Orleans’s Mardi Gras, but we do have Carnival Sunday, this year on March 3. It is a day of joy for locals, when residents gather at the Jardín and buy a bag with eggshells that have had the contents extracted and then have been refilled with confetti, flour, or some other similar substance, so that it can later be smashed upon the head of a relative, a lover, or a friend—for fun, for love, or just because.

Traditionalist Gloria Rodríguez, who works to preserve San Miguel traditions and keep memories of them alive, told Atención that in the past, men and women walked around the Jardín in opposite directions on Carnival Sunday, with men trying to woo women by breaking an eggshell on their heads. The egg would not have confetti or artificial silver inside back in those days, but perfume.

Now just the memories remain. The ritual in the Jardín has faded away, and local authorities now try to control more strictly what is sold in the Jardín during those days—Wednesday, February 27 to Tuesday, March 5. March 5 is Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins.

But the tradition hangs on in small ways. There will still be people bringing real eggs from home or shells stuffed with confetti or flour or other materials. And during this period, despite the city’s stricter rules on mobile vendors, one can still purchase colored shells from the señoras around the Jardín Principal.

 

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