Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the library

Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the library

Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the library

The Humboldt County Library kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month Friday afternoon with a fiesta, complete with food, music and dancing. 

The celebration started with cinnamon sugar-dusted pastries called churros, and the cinnamon-sweet drink horchata, both traditional treats in Mexico.

The Spirit of Mexico Youth Dancers performed dances highlighting different regions in Mexico. Their colorful costumes reflected the regions their dances came from.

The dance from Michoacan featured three girls who stepped up barefoot on their clay pots to dance. The feature dance from Jalisco, the Jarabe Tapatio, or Mexican Hat Dance, showcased the flashing skirts and the wide-brimmed sombrero made famous by the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico.

The Jarabe Tapatio was as much a political statement as a courtship dance in its day. Though they never touch during the dance, the lady in her bright, swirling skirt and the young man in his charro and sombrero represented more seduction than the Spanish desired to see. The dance was banned by Spanish colonial authorities. The Mexican people continued to dance the Jarabe Tapatio in protest, and then in celebration after Mexico gained its independence from Spain in September of 1821. It later became the National Dance of Mexico.

The Spirit of Mexico Youth Dancers began in 2009 as part of a church youth group led by Angelica Mercado. “It’s customary for dances to be offered up to Our Lady of Guadalupe, so the youth decided to prepare dances for her feast day,” said Lily Avalos, who emceed the afternoon’s presentation. “After that, they wanted to continue with it because it was important to their culture with the community, and they realized what kind of passion they had for it.”

Over time, the group opened up to others who wanted to learn traditional Mexican dances.

The group practices continually all year. When a performance nears, the group decides which of the dances they want to feature. The Spirit of Mexico Youth Dancers performed for the Tri-County Fair earlier in the month.

According to the website, Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes “the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture.”