The popular festivity of “El Día de la Flores” has its origins as part of the celebration of “Viernes de Dolores”. At this date the people set altars in honor of the Virgin Mary of Sorrows. Such altars start to be elaborated from the previous day, which is why at downtown in the “Jardín de la Unión” lots of people selling flowers arrive. From this time the place is covered with the smell of flowers and its vivid colors. This joyfull atmosphere brought the idea of starting dance balls and many traditions around them.
In the previous night, on thursday, it became a tradition to do some dance balls at different places in the city, which were called “Baile de las flores”.( the Flowers Dance Ball). At dawn, after spending all night dancing, the young people used to come to the Jardín de la Unión dressed in their best outfits. Men used to gather at one side and started to walk aroun the place, while women did the same but walking on the opposite direction. This way ladies and gentlemen could see each other and share a gaze, once a lady was attracted to a man, he would give her flowers from the people selling flowers around. This was calles “el Paseo de las Flores” (The Flowers Walking)
Since the selling of flowers and other elements to decorate the altars started at down, while there were some music playing to bring joy to the festivity, the young people and their parents could take this opportunity to have breakfast at the nearest restaurants, and later join to do the visit to the various altars in the city, and to the mines.
The festivity continued almost the same for the sixty years since it had started. In the present times, the dance balls take place at bars and discoteques; the tradition of giving flowers while walking around the “Jardín Unión” has disapeared, but you can still fins men giving flowers to their girlfriends, or to his love interest.
Since “Eastern” is near, now you can also see people selling Eastern Eggs Baskets, and many figures made form the egg shells. The music band stills plays at the downtown and members of the local government authorities, bussinessman and institutions still give food for free to the people at he calle “El Truco” (Truco´s street)
At the time it was addapted to Mexico, the altar to the virgin took characteristics that makes this festivity a very unique one in Guanajuato.
The “La Dolorosa” which is how she is also known by, it is represented with a sorrow face, and droping tears. Seven little swords stabs his heart, meaning the seven sorrows she suffered beause of the death of her son.
The altar is full of flowers and colored papers that makes it look more like a sign of joy than sorrow. There are also some prehispanic elements on it, that makes it very mexican-barroque. People start to prepare it the day before. A cloth or paper in purple means the pain of the calvary, the white means the purity of the Virgin. There are also some ochre papers that meant the hill of the calvary and at the bottom of the image of the Virgin, a crucifix is placed to simbolyse the Passion of Christ.
On the tables where the altar is, over the white cloths there are plenty of candles and holy candles which makes us think of the path of truth and life.
There are also chamomille, the green of it reminds us of the humbleness of the Virgin and the yellow the beauty of body and soul.
Bitter oranges are painted or covered of golden color and there are little flags sticked. The meaning of the oranges is the bitterness of the Virgin to see her son in the cross. The golden color is for the joy the Virgin knowing her son will rise from the death. The flags are for the peace and brotherhood among all the countries
Fennel is all over the lower part, to mean that Jesus was abandoned for those who said would be loyal to him
Some people sew in golden and silver threads in the white carpets, two fishes and a basket with breads, to represent the miracle of Jesus of feeding more than five thousand people.
Some others symbolize Jesus as Father, the King and the Man, by burning incense and sewing the carpets at the center with a golden crown
There are always light, represented of various kinds of candles, and the reflection of the light on the glass balls, as well as in the golden paper flags, which with the heat starts to make a crunching sound(people call it the “oro volador” (Flying gold); and colored water inside of crystal pots represents the tears shed by the Virgin.
Wheat that were planted two weeks ago in little cans, are put away from the sunlight, to prevent they grow yellow. The wheat represents that Jesus and Mary do not wants us to suffer of hunger.
The popular sense of this altar, has brought many elements to enrich this, so giant glass balls are hanging from the ceiling to reflect the light, along with purple and white colored flowers, and a carpet, generally made of wheat bran, coffee and all kinds of grains and petals of flowers.
The altar is generally placed at the entrance of the houses, so people walking by can see it and come to visit.
The traditions says that in every house that an altar is placed, the owners responds to the question of the visitors ¿aquí lloró la virgen? (has already cried the Virgin here?), giving away for free a glass of lemonade with “chía”, or a fruit punch made of beetroot or “nieves” (icecream). These represents the tears of the Virgins and indicates that “she has already cried” in that house.
My family traditionally give away icecreams on that day! ^^
The “tears” shared helps the people to refresh from the heat, but also some people give away some sweet food like “chilacayote con piloncillo y canela”.Sometimes you can hear gosspel music.