Birthdays in Mexico
Over the past several weeks I have been either out celebrating or having people to my own home to celebrate at least six different cumpleaños for myself and friends. It struck me this past weekend just how different and important celebrating these days seem to be here in Mexico.
I guess it should really come as no surprise that a country that celebrates the dead, also celebrates the day you are born with a unique enthusiasm. I started to think back to my first birthday in Mexico when I was living in a colonia called Las Canoas. Now, this particular area on the edge of the river is certainly home to some very hard working but financially disadvantaged residents. I had seen the warm embrace that others received as a gift on their birthday, but frankly, when I was the recipient I was taken aback.
The embrace was not short-lived, nor was it overly affectionate, it was instead one that seemed to convey hope and joy. Hope for a better year ahead and joy of celebrating having made it thru another year in one piece! My neighbor’s and my local shop owners all gave me this same warm embrace that was my first lesson in how I needed to adapt my own cultural standards to my new home.
Over these past weeks, I have been welcomed by my own friends to a surprise party, one that almost brought me to tears. I was truly surprised, but more so as the friends who arranged it all are here living in Mexico as refugees from Venezuela and are just carving out a living for themselves. They cooked traditional food from home and organized a group of my close friends to help decorate their simple apartment. The spirit and love were overwhelming and reminded me of those first embraces I received here. Once again, hope for a better year was the message.
I have been to several very large parties lately hosted by some gracious folks who use their events to raise funds for charity. This past week saw fireworks at the beach and a delicious food hosted by some new friends whose home sits just above the ocean and the seahorse statue.
A friend asked me recently about renting a villa for their party. They had friends coming from out of town, and they wanted to make sure that all of their friends could celebrate their birthday with them but not have to worry about money. I do not live in a Villa by any stretch, but the pool and space at my home have seen several cumpleaños over the past few months, and one more seemed to be a good idea.
When the DJ’s showed up with the professional equipment, I realized it would be a loud and long night of celebrating. However, my neighbor had a 20 piece mariachi band a few days before, and I was not too concerned about a bit of noise. We always welcome our neighbors to join us. A few more to a party here is the norm.
The thing is that no matter the size of the event, or the amount of money spent the most important sentiment is in that darn hug and the wish for a happy day and a good year. Every event boiled down to that same thing I learned many years ago.
As you know, I am writing about food, real estate and the odd article on architecture, but my real writing is about embracing our new lifestyle and culture. So next time you find out someone is having a birthday, fishmonger, plumber, or close friend. Give them a big loving hug, and try to convey your hope for them to have a great year. It is the single most important gift you can give in Mexico!
Until next time!