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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture File: Mexico series at SpanishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring essential cultural information about Mexico, Mexican Culture, and Mexican People. In this lesson, we will talk about Mexican folklore and traditions. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 12 - Carnival
From its beginning in the Middle Ages, The Carnival, or Carnaval in Spanish, has been a popular celebration which is still celebrated en masse in many places of the world, and Mexico is no exception.
The most common Carnivals take up the elements well known throughout the world, such as floats, the flower wars, the election of a Carnival queen, or "reina del Carnaval", and an ugly king. Carnival celebrations held in Acapulco, Veracruz, Campeche, Mérida and Mazatlán, to mention a few, are much like this.
However, there are many other places in the country where Carnival leaves a different mark, a more ritual one. In these places, the celebration is focused on rural and indigenous communities, in Spanish "comunidades indígenas", where the participants take over the streets and rejoice in the music, dancing, regional masks, and costumes or "disfraces". These aspects combine to transform the celebration into a more locally traditional affair.
The Carnival of Morelos is one of the ones that best preserve this local tradition. Here, the most popular dance is the chinelos’ dance, or "danza de los chinelos", a dance which has been preserved with few changes for more than a century.
A "chinelo" is a comical representation of the Spanish colonial people. The costumes of these characters are fantastically vivid—long robes of velvet and multicolor layers, palm hats covered with black velvet that extend upward, decorated with fretwork, flowers, drawings and feathers; and masks with a white complexion and rosy cheeks, blue eyes, a mustache and pointy beard.
The celebration starts with the procession of the chinelos, who begin by doing a few dances. Upon arriving at the plaza square, they begin to jump up and down, hopping on their tiptoes. The dancers jump energetically, spinning around, and continue for hours until it's time for the fireworks, or "fuegos artificiales", and popular dance.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How is Carnival celebrated in your country?
Leave a comment telling us at SpanishPod101.com! Until next time!