Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Holiday traditions in Maltrata: Huehues

On December 25th and January 1st the huehues (or huehueres, as most people pronounce it) come out in Maltrata. Huhue means "old" or "ancient" in Nahuatl. A group of men and boys dress up and dance around. I saw a huge variety of costumes, including women, devils, Beast from Beauty and the Beast, the Hulk, skeletons, and more. Apparently the typical costumes used to be an indigenous style of dress, but now people dress up as whatever they want and many have masks sent to them or brought back from the US. They dance around to music until the leader rings the bell and they move on to the next spot.

There’s no consistent answer as to why the tradition started, though I heard various explanations including that they represent happiness, they represent the people that were sent to kill baby Jesus, they represent the end of the old year, they bring in the New Year, and that it’s making fun of the Spanish conquistadors.

There were lots of people that came out to see the huehues and followed them as they moved throughout town. I was told they’re given money to dance, though I never saw that happen, and that they use the money for alcohol or they’re given food and/or drink afterward.

lots of people out to see the huehues

I had never seen anything like it before and the family insisted that I dance with them - so I did! 
The video isn't great, but it's proof I was out there with them! 

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