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This small Mexican-Caribbean island still celebrates many traditional holidays

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Carnaval Since 1908, Cozumel celebrates Carnaval, the island's time-honored pre-Lenten festival. Within the Mexican-Caribbean, Cozumel displays the most popular and authentic Carnaval celebration, providing a more traditional and family-oriented event. Five days of fun that includes parades, floats, traditional regional foods, music and dancing. The highlight is the Comparsas Ball and its dance competition


Feria del Cedral (Cedral Fair) A more than 150 year old tradition, the fair at El Cedral is held every year during the first week of May to commemorate the Day of the Holy Cross, the anniversary of the first Catholic mass in Mexico. It honors the safe passage of the 11 founding families who fled the mainland to Cozumel in 1848 during La Guerra de Castas (The Caste War).

At the fair, both residents and visitors enjoy food stands, games, dancing and shopping. Of note are the ?Head of the Boar? and ?The Ribbons? traditional dances which are performed on May 3rd, Day of the Holy Cross (Día de la Santa Cruz ). The event also features cattle exhibitions, races, rides and bullfights.

Rodeo de Lanchas Mexicanas (Mexican Boat Rodeo) Annual sport fishing tournament that brings together competitors from Mexico and around the world to fish for blue marlin, white marlin, wahoo, dorado, tuna and other game fish. More than a 100 boats participate in the event each year. Interested participants simply need to register their boats in Mexico.


San Pedro y San Pablo Festival, June 29

A religious festival honoring Saint Peter and Saint Paul, complete with a fair, rides, food and craft shows.



Día de la Independencia (Independence Day)

Sept. 15 - 16  Part of the nationwide festival celebrating Mexican Independence Day. On September 15 local residents and visitors congregate around the City Hall for the traditional ?grito?, or cry for independence. The cry ?Viva Mexico,? lead by the local mayor from the balcony at City Hall, takes place at 11 p.m.

Immediately following are a fireworks display, traditional foods and musical and folkloric dance performances. On September 16, Independence Day, the celebrations continue with a parade that goes through Cozumel's downtown waterfront.


Fiestas de San Miguel Arcangel Sept. 21 - 29

One of Cozumel's most important religious festivals honoring San Miguel Arcángel, Saint Michael, Patron Saint of the island. The celebration begins on September 21, featuring colorful processions that start from the church of San Miguel. Also features food and craft fairs. During this time, local residents attend mass and take part in daily processions wearing traditional Mayan outfits called ?hipiles.?

On the last day, a procession of fishermen carry an image of San Miguel Arcángel to the downtown pier and board a boat. The public accompanies the fisherman to the pier and board a ferry, surrounded by fishing boats, to join the procession by sea, throwing flowers into the ocean as they sail along.

Cozumel has honored San Miguel Arcángel as its Patron Saint since 1848 when Father Rejón, a priest from Chemax, Yucatan, arrived in Cozumel with new inhabitants and an image of Saint Michael. In 1526, Francisco de Montejo, a representative of the King of Spain, had been authorized to conquer and develop the island. He gave the island the Christian name of San Miguel de Cozumel.



Día de los muertos (Day of the Dead) Nov. 1-2

The history of the Day of the Dead dates back over 3,000 years ago. Life was seen as a dream and it was believed that only in dying was a human being truly awake and the soul set free. For the Day of the Dead, special altars are made with flowers, candles and food and are displayed in hotels, restaurants and other public places. The bakeries on island are filled with sweets shaped in the symbols of skulls, and flowers and memorials fill the cemetery. Particularly popular are marigolds, a sacred orange flower that represents death.

November 1, Día de Todos los Santos (All Saints Day) is known as the day when the spirits of children are expected to return and Mexicans pay homage to the souls of the children who have passed on. Tradition states that the departed descend from the heavens on this day, so family members prepare for their arrival by leaving sugar skeletons, skulls and treats on altars specially made for the occasion.

On November 2, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), is a celebration for all the adults that have passed away. Families leave the favorite food and drink of the deceased on a special altar constructed in their home or on the tomb of the departed ancestor.




Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe Dec. 1-12

Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most popular celebrations in Mexico and Cozumel. The celebration starts the first day of December with a pilgrimage lead through the island by religious and non-religious organizations to the Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

On December 9, groups make another pilgrimage to the parish to celebrate a Thanksgiving mass. The festivities continue with a race around the island on December 11. The race begins at the Guadalupe Parish, crossing through the island to return to the Parish in time for a festival full of regional foods, folkloric dances and musical performances. The celebration includes traditional mariachi bands that sing to the Virgin, Patroness of Mexico and Empress of America, throughout the day.

On December 12 several masses are held in the Parish and celebrations with regional foods, dance and music continue until the performances of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the Tepeyac cliff are held.

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