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Autumn is the time of ancient harvest festivals, the best time to listen to the heart of Mexico

Autumn is fiesta time in Mexico.

This fall festival season, which begins in October, is structured around the ancient harvest celebrations, and locally takes the form of the Fiestas de Octubre, the saints’ days of surrounding villages, the vast October 12 peregrination escorting the Virgin of Zapopan back to her home basilica in nearby Zapopan, and the fiestas decembrinas, which begin as a prelude to Christmas and will continue into January with the celebration of Three Kings Day. Additional celebrations will boom forward at their steady, ritual pace in numerous forms in the surrounding pueblos well into February.

Musica folklorica

Though the fundamental form of most of these festivals remains traditional, much of the manner in which this is presented is gradually changing as modernity makes its implacable inroads.

Yet, if one is lucky, now is the ideal time to seek out and enjoy two Mexican musical forms that appear to be fading from popular use as part of these traditional celebrations: the corrido and the canción (often called the ranchera). At their purest, these two constitute the core of Mexico’s musica folklorica.

Unrequited love

The canción is the most popular of the two today, and is, of course, about love, usually unrequited. It also can speak eloquently of adultery:

“You left me, woman / Because I am very poor / And because I have the misfortune / To be married.”

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