Wednesday, February 14 will be no ordinary day in Guadalajara. The conspiratorial forces of the calendar have combined for the first time in many years to provide a triple whammy for locals.
Not only will Tapatios be marking the traditional day of the founding of the city in 1452 and the Mexican equivalent of Valentine’s Day (Dia del Amor y la Amistad), but February 14 is also Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
City hall will kick off its celebration of Guadalajara’s birthday with a rendition of “Las Mañanitas” in the Presidencia Municipal around 8 a.m. This will be followed by a series of cultural events in and around the city center throughout the day.
Meanwhile, as citizens of many other countries will express their love for each other on February 14 by recalling the exploits of a 14th century Christian martyr, Mexico simplifies the matter, preferring to refer to this romantic occasion the day of love and friendship. That doesn’t mean Mexicans take their Valentine’s Day any less seriously. Cards are not so much of a big deal here, but flower, teddy bear, candy and balloon vendors will be stacking up the sales. Expect restaurants to be full, too (see story right). Amorous Catholics who take the business of avoiding meat on Ash Wednesday seriously will be scouring the menus for fish and veggie options, no doubt! Many will attend church on Miercoles de Cenizas when a priest – or in some cases a nun – will stamp the sign of the cross on their foreheads while reciting a familiar spiritual admonition such as “Repent and believe in the Gospel” or “You are dust and to dust you shall return.”
The widespread custom of observing a meat-free diet during the 40 days of Lent mean that fishmongers, and especially Zapopan’s wholesale Mercardo del Mar, do brisk trade at this time of year.