One of the country’s most lavish celebrations takes place in this state of Central Mexico, Tlaxcala. A festive array of dancers, dance troupes, and floats parade through the city to begin the celebration. All along the street, groups of traditional dancers known as “camadas” perform their traditional dances. The dancers are called huehues, a word derived from “Huehueteotl,” the Nahuatl god of fire and wisdom.
To best represent their former landowners, the huehues, or “viejitos (old men)” as they are affectionately known, are dressed in elegant pants, vests, long sleeved shirts, ties, and polished shoes. Across their backs are capes adorned with bright colors and embroidered with sequins and brightly painted beads. On their heads are hats decorated with feathers to resemble the Native headdresses worn by the indigenous peoples and masks depicting clearly European features. No expenses are spared in making these beautiful costumes that are remade every year so that they may continuously give the best performance.
The climax of the festivities is the crowning of the carnival queen. Followed by two more parades abounding in traditional masks, bright colors, and decorated floats. The streets fill with vibrant dances, artisans and their crafts, and the many superb tastes of the local culinary masterpieces. The carnival ends with an explosion of fireworks and revelry.
The citrines(dandies; well-dressed folk) begin their closing ceremony when the carnival is coming close. From each group, the head lifts a cross onto his back. He will carry this cross and deposit it on an altar before standing and saying a prayer. Once the leader of each group has had a chance to tell his prayer, all the groups converge on the stage to perform a ritual dance to the tunes played by bands. The dance then spills into the streets and ends at the central square or “Zocalo.”
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