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Honoring San Isidro, Mexico’s saintly plowman

Though Mexican appointment books, calendars and even Google declare that May 15 is Dia del Maestro  (Teachers Day), all of the Republic’s campesinos know better.

pg12One has to jump back to a 1980 Agenda y Calendario to find out what May 15 traditionally is: Dia de San Isidro Labrador—The Day of Isidro, the saintly plowman.

This means that in the pantheon of Catholic saints, he’s the campesino’s patron. And God know campesinos need all the help they can get.

San Isidro, it seems, is easy for calendarians to lose in Mexico’s monton of May fiestas. (See story page 24.) Some locals believe all the celebrating is a practical, distracting way of getting through the month’s soaring temperatures and smoke-laden skies, as farmers and ranchers burn off brush in preparation for June planting.

Though city folk forget San Isidro, he will be honored fervently, colorfully and, where possible expensively by those in rural pueblos and on farms and ranches.

Clearly, the fiesta began before Christianity arrived here and in many ways still echoes how indigenous inhabitants of Mesoamerica worshipped the deities of fertility and earth long before Europeans came clanking ashore at Veracruz.

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