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Tiltepec, Oaxaca


15 October 1999


Casimiro is a farmer from the community of Tiltepec. In this short interview he discusses the community’s festivals and traditions and how he feels these have changed over the years. He describes the way that festivals used to take place, explaining the roles played by the different community authorities and cargo positions. In particular the fiscales, who had certain responsibilities to do with the church, were in charge of “ringing the bell on the days of festivals, calling the people to come down to say the rosary when the priest arrives”. He also describes the feasts that took place during Holy Week and the fiesta de muertos (Day of the Dead). He feels the festivals are no longer what they were and believes this is because young people are no longer interested. This he blames on education, claiming: “now there’s studying and they all know how to read and write and so in that way they don’t take any notice.”

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Traditions: the forefathers celebrated four festivals a year. One role of the fiscales – to light the candles. The fiscales were elected by the municipal authority. “Now they don’t do anything, everything is forgotten.”
Section 2  Describes activities and processions they used to have for Holy Week. The young start drinking alcohol at festivals: “When there is a religious festival, people come from other communities. What they do is give out alcohol, they say it’s ‘el respeto de uno’ (good hospitality) and that’s how the kids start drinking. Even women drink the mezcal and chingre (traditional alcoholic drinks made from maguey and fermented sugarcane respectively).” The fiesta de muertos (Day of the Dead): “The whole community kills chickens and makes tamales (traditional dish of ground maize with various fillings, wrapped in banana or corn leaves) and they put bottles of mezcal on the table, they put out bread and fruit, and make decorations in the shape of an altar where the table is prepared.” The young people no longer carry on with the traditions. Blames education.
Section 3  Organisation of the village: before the old officials organised things, and if people didn’t obey them they were punished.