Cielo y Tierra Tours S.A de C.V.
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
Content and Images © Copyright Cielo y Tierra Tours 2009-2011
THE HIGHLAND MAYA keep up an elaborate calendar of celebrations. These vibrant fiestas turn even the remotest Maya village into a whirlwind of color and noise, with locals in wonderful costumes, traditional music and dances, processions, fireworks, horse races through the streets ... It is a truly unforgettable experience.
Easter is very important in the highlands of Chiapas, and each Maya community has its own schedule of celebrations. Each village also holds a special fiesta in honor of their patron saint, with festivities climaxing on one day, but building up over previous days.
Here are the dates of some of the main highland Maya fiestas. If you would like to visit any of these villages during festival time, please contact us for further information.
New Year's Day (Jan 1). A very interesting and colorful day in the Maya villages as new religious and governmental office holders begin their year of service.
Día de San Sebastián (Jan 20). Vibrant fiesta in Zinacantán, lasting several days (climaxing on the 20th), with colorful processions and traditional dances. Also celebrated in San Juan Chamula.
Día de San Ildefonso (Jan 23). Big traditional fiesta in Tenejapa, with music, dancing and religious processions in honor of their patron saint.
Carnaval (the week before Lent; variable Feb-March). One of the biggest events in the highlands of Chiapas, taking place in many Maya communities (including Tenejapa, San Juan Chamula, San Pedro Chenalhó and San Andrés Larráinzar). The spectacular festivities take place over a week-long period.
Semana Santa (Holy Week). Widely observed by all highland Maya communities, with processions and special masses. Some villages celebrate the burning of Judas (represented by a papier-maché figure).
Festival de San Pedro (April 28-29). Celebrated in Amatenango del Valle, it is a colorful festival full of traditional music and dancing.
Fiesta de la Santa Cruz (May 3). A very important and lively celebration in San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan. Also celebrated in Amatenango del Valle and Aguacatenango.
Fiesta de San Miguel Arcángel (May 7-8). Traditional dances, music and religious processions in the Tzotzil Maya village of Mitontic, in honor of their patron saint.
Día de San Isidro (May 14-16). Very colorful and traditional fiesta in the Tzeltal Maya village of Huixtán.
Día de San Juan (June 24). The culmination of several days' celebrations (of their patron saint) in San Juan Chamula. It is an incredible fiesta; very bold and colorful, with religious processions, traditional music and dances, horse races, and lots of fireworks!
Día de San Pedro (June 29). Processions and traditional music and dances in San Pedro Chenalhó, in honor of their patron saint.
Día de Santiago (July 24-25). Very important and colorful celebrations in the Tzeltal communities of Amatenango del Valle (villagers ride horses through the streets) and Tenejapa.
Día de Santa Maria Magdalena (July 22). Lively celebration in the Tzotzil Maya village of Magdalenas, to honor their patron saint.
Día del Señor de la Buena Esperanza (Aug 6). A traditional celebration in the Tzotzil village of Mitontic.
Fiesta de San Lorenzo (Aug 10). A very important fiesta in Zinacantán in honor of their patron saint. It is one of the most colorful in the highlands throughout the entire year, with lots of traditional music and dancing, and horseracing up and down the main street.
Día de Santa Rosa (Aug 30). Celebrated in San Juan Chamula, when the locals wear traditional clothing and play Tzotzil harps and instruments outside the church.
Día de San Miguel Arcángel (Sept 28-29). Very festive celebration in the Tzeltal community of Huixtán (in honor of their patron saint) with lots of music and dancing and villagers in traditional clothing.
Día de la Virgen del Rosario (Oct 7). Celebrated in San Juan Chamula with Tzotzil music and dances.
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead; Nov 1-2). One of the most stunning and moving festivals of the year, celebrated across Mexico. In the highland Maya communities, a festive atmosphere prevails; the cemeteries overflow with flowers, and families make offerings and hold dances, to the accompaniment of traditional music. (Romerillo cemetery is not to be missed during this fiesta).
Festival de San Andrés (Nov 28-30). The most important ceremony of the year in San Andrés Larráinzar, in honor of their patron saint. The 29th is the biggest day of the fiesta.
Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (Dec 12). Mexico's most revered saint, this is a very important day throughout the country. It is celebrated in the highland Maya communities with stunning religious processions, fireworks, traditional music and dances.
Dia de Santa Lucia (Dec 13). The most important fiesta of the year in Amatenango del Valle, in honor of their patron saint. The villagers celebrate with traditional dances, offerings and music.
New Year's Eve (Dec 31). Change of religious and governmental authorities takes place in many highland Maya communities. The event occurs on January 1 in some villages.
Carnaval in San Juan Chamula
Fiesta de Santo Tomás (Dec 20). Colourful celebration in the Tzeltal community of Oxchuc in honor of their patron saint.
Iglesía de Guadalupe,
San Cristóbal de Las Casas