New Year’s Eve falls during this time as well. It is celebrated much like most of the rest of the world with some exceptions. One notable tradition is the eating of twelve grapes rapidly along with the twelve chimes of the clock at midnight, to bring luck for each of the months of the coming year. Fireworks are common and in very rural areas they festivities may include shots fired in the air as well. In some parts ofVeracruz, December 31 is reserved to honor elderly men with the Fiesta del Hombre Viejo.[1]

T’is the season…

christmas-poinsettiaThe way it is celebrated in Mexico is different than we are use to in the USA, Canada or Europe. In Mexico the Christmas celebrations starts as early as December 3 and lasts until January 6. There will be Christmas trees along the streets, decorations and traditional native scenes during this time. There will be a mass and feast on Christmas eve which will be in held in the traditional Spanish way which were created during Mexico’s colonial period. Usually Mexican who are living abroad will be traveling back to Mexico to celebrate this special time with their families.

You will be able to visit Christmas street markets where there will be lots of stalls selling traditional Christmas gifts and decorations like ornaments, lights and poinsettias. (The poinsettia is an important plant species of the diverse spurge family that is indigenous to Mexico and Central America.) A lot of homes and other buildings will be decorated with poinsettia.

The traditional Santa Claus appears as well. It is not uncommon to see Santa somewhere providing an opportunity for children to have their picture taken with him. After Christmas Day, the Christmas stalls and stand will also have one or more Wise Men. Children get presents from both Santa Claus and the Wise Men. More often you will see that the traditional Christmas celebrations are mixed with foreign traditions and on the city’s main square or Zocalo, a Christmas tree is set up and even an ice rink which has became a tradition.

blog-image-mexican-halloweenDia de los Muertos, or better know in Canada and the States as Halloween, is being celebrated differently than what we are used to.

There is no trick or treating but instead kids run through the streets with a lantern in their hands asking for coins. Families are gathering together at the graves of loved ones who passed on to celebrate their life while enjoying a picnic.

Usually they bring the favourite food, drinks and photos of the deceased and gifts. The grave is decorated with flowers and in case there is no grave they build an altar to honor the dead. It is not a one-day celebration but spread out over 3 days of remembering, celebration and happiness.

It is not just the kids that are carrying lanterns but they will be put into trees as well to guide the souls back home. Usually this goes hand in hand with light fireworks like firecrackers and bonfires.

The southern part of the Pacific coast of Mexico is on alert now that hurricane Barbara is moving in closer with a speed of appr. 75 miles per hour. The forecast is warning people about a 6 to 12 inches of rain and an expected storm surge of  a max. of 5 feet above normal tide levels. The US national Hurricane Centre predicts that hurricane Barbara will most likely make land fall close to the port of Salina Cruz, which is home to Mexico’s largest oil refinery.

School is canceled in the coastal communities for the rest of the week and the appr. 4000 people who are living in Chiapas, located in the region between Puerto Angel and Barra de Tonala, are being evacuated. Emergency shelters are being prepared in the state of Oaxaca and set up throughout the region.

Mexico’s National Meteorological Society has warned the following states to prepare for floods, landslides, heavy rain fall, strong winds and rising water.

Why are so many people badmouthing Mexico?

You can see it in some newspaper every week. Articles about violence in Mexico. Specifically journalists and reporters seem to look for something more sensational than it is when writing about this country. They seem to think that, because the area along the US border is (indeed) suffering from violence caused by the Mexican AND US drug cartels, the situation is the same everywhere in Mexico. Now, Mexico is a BIG country. That particular area where bad things happen is only 5% of the area that we call Mexico.

Bad news intentionally?

Not long ago, a Canadian woman crashed with her scooter while on vacation in Playa del Carmen. The news was brought with the headline: “Calgary woman KILLED in Mexico.” The author of this article clearly had one thing in mind: A headline that sparks fear about Mexico.

In 2012, another Canadian woman was beaten up in an elevator, at a Mazatlan resort. This became front page news. What SHOULD have been the news is that this woman entered the elevator butt NAKED in the middle of the night. What the heck was she doing there naked? She encountered some Mexican drunk who obviously saw this as an opportunity. Now, beating up any person is absolutely unacceptable, but wasn’t there a provocative factor at play as well? I mean, running around naked at a Mexican resort in the middle of the night is not really ‘usual’ behaviour or a safe thing to do anywhere right? Still the “news” was brought as ‘Mexican resorts unsafe’, ‘Beaten up in Mexico’ and ‘Violence in Mexico’. While this story unfolded on Canadian newspaper front pages over a couple of days, my wife and I counted FOUR murders in Calgary that week because of gang related violence. That news didn’t even reach page seven…

Stop painting Mexico as an unsafe vacation destination!

I don’t mean to say that violence doesn’t exist in Mexico and that everything is fine and dandy there. OF COURSE there is violence. Of course robberies and murders happen in Mexico. THE THING IS: THAT HAPPENS ALSO IN THE US AND IN CANADA! My point is that the negativity around Mexico’s image, created by people who don’t know Mexico at all, is hurting tourism, labour and the development of a country on the rise and willing to do things better. A country with genuinely friendly people who want to move ahead. Be aware: Mexico is NOT a third world country anymore!

Stay away from the Mexican communities close to the American border. INDEED – these places are unsafe and have a track record for robbery and worse. Don’t travel by car through these areas, that’s just plain stupid. You should avoid these unsafe areas as you avoid the unsafe areas like in the town you live currently! YES – these places exist in your home-town too, please don’t deny it. Violence is everywhere. Recently, someone named Canada/Alberta’s capital Edmonton – Deadmonton -, because of an obvious reason: too many people murdered because of local criminality. It’s the city with the most annual murders on record for three consecutive years. I didn’t see any article in the newspapers though saying: Do not travel to Canada!

To all the ‘news’ people: STOP painting Mexico as an unsafe vacation destination please! Go there yourself first before you write any unjustified opinions. Experience Mexico as it really is: vibrant, promising, friendly, colourful and most of all: SAFE.

What’s YOUR opinion about safety in Mexico?

by: Todd Korol/Reuters
CALGARY – WestJet is adding four new sun destinations to its winter schedule.

Beginning in late October the Calgary-based airline plans to introduce flights to Curacao, the twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, and Liberia in northwest Costa Rica, all from Toronto. Flights to Manzanillo on Mexico’s Pacific coast will commence in early November from Calgary.

The additions reflect WestJet’s “ongoing strategic focus” on expanding its offerings in the sun destination market, said vice-president John MacLeod.

From ‘The Associated Press’

Published: Thursday, Jul. 12, 2012 – 8:08 am
Last Modified: Friday, Jul. 13, 2012 – 2:05 am

MIAMI — Emilia has weakened to a tropical storm in the Pacific while Tropical Storm Fabio is intensifying.

Emilia had been a hurricane, but its maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 70 mph (110 kph) early Friday with additional weakening expected. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Emilia could weaken to a tropical depression Saturday.

Emilia is centered about 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometers) west-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California and is moving west near 14 mph (22 kph).

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Fabio’s maximum sustained winds have increased to near 65 mph (100 kph). Additional strengthening is forecast and the storm could become a hurricane by Saturday.

Fabio is centered about 485 miles (775 kilometers) southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, and is moving west-northwest near 9 mph (15 kph).


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