Friday, May 13, 2011

Dia de la Madre

In Guatemala, Mother's Day is officially May 10. In the U.S., I feel like the day is mostly a celebration between each set of mother and child. Younger kids usually do some sort of Mother's Day craft project at school to take home, but generally it's something kept within the family.

Not so, here. Since the holiday is on a specific date, it often does not fall on a Sunday.  In fact, even were it to fall during a weekend, the schools would pick the nearest weekday to have their Dia de la Madre events.

Down in town at the junior high school, classes were suspended all week long. I learned this after attempting to teach one class Monday afternoon and then realizing that none of the other teachers were holding class. Upon talking to the director, I learned that there was just too much bulla (racket) for it to be worth trying to work.

The reason this turned into a week long situation is that in the school building where I help out, there are actually three separate school institutions. Each school wanted to have a separate Mother's Day celebration, so they each signed up for a different day to use the main salón (auditorium, in this case).  Now, that could have knocked out three days, but they also need days off from school to plan the activities.

On Tuesday morning I wandered up to the primary school here in my aldea to check out the festivities, and normal classes were cancelled for the day. For the first few hours the kids were just running around playing while the sound system was set up and the community gathered. By 10 a.m. things really got rolling, as a basketball tournament began between the mothers in town. Between games there was a raffle with prizes that only mothers could win. Throughout it all there was nonstop pontificating coming from the large sound system as the microphone was handed around between various community leaders who spoke in a hybrid of Spanish and K'iche' praising women and motherhood.

Watching the women play, I was impressed with how committed to the game the women were, despite mostly being dressed in their dress shoes and traditional cortefaja, and guipil outfit, which is just not conducive to exercise. The bulk of them clearly had not played before (or at least not since Mother's Day last year), but they ran with enthusiasm and hacked at each other like fouling was their job. I later learned that the winning team of the tournament would win Q200, so maybe that accounts for some of the intensity. Mostly, I just loved seeing the women who are usually so shy and retiring (some would say submissive) out there being aggressive and laughing as they ran around in front of their whole community.


  1. Wow! It actually sounds ridiculously fun!

  2. Can I take that as a vote for me replicating a Guatemalan Mother's Day upon me return? :)

  3. Put $200 on the line and you'll get some mother's hacking away.