On a recent weekend trip with my mom, we went to Tizimin, a town in Yucatan, and just at the entrance of the town we could see a crowd walking in the streets, I’ve seen that before, in Puerto Morelos, This are called Gremios, which are basically religious processions, I’ve always felt amazed by the colors and the music of the Gremio, since I was a little girl I saw my friends in the processions with their parents. And even though I’m catholic because that is how my parents baptized me, I don’t professed any religion, but I like celebrations like this or the day of the Virgin Mary, because I like to feel the emotion of people and their believes.
Los Gremios (processions held by guilds or crafts association) are a fundamental part in the customs and traditions of the Maya people, who every year pay homage and give thanks for life, health and work.
Every town has his own date according to the patron saint. From that date the religious calendar marks 23 days of activity, every one of this days the different unions offer a Birthday ceremony to the saint, noon and evening mass are performed, at the end of this there is fireworks, ranging from simple light flying, to cypress, waterfalls, balloons, bull among others.
It is important to remember that the holidays Guild are the origin of the celebrations in Yucatan. They began when the first missionaries organized the indigenous people in the new population centers according to professions, they were assigned a patron saint and and gave them the date of celebration. The Gremios are the syndicates of the different professions like taxi drivers, shoeshine boys, butchers, bakers, henequen workers, shoemakers, market stall vendors, carpenters, and more. Each group reserves a day in the Cathedral for their procession.
This had immediate acceptance as the ancient Maya had a similar organization and simply replaced their gods by Christian saints. And so they were integrated over the years into guilds.
Today the guild are held in the days before and during the traditional festival. Each guild leaves the house of the organizer in a journey that ends at the church, during the walk they carry banners with religious images and richly bordered inscriptions. Similarly the peregrinación, or religious prayer procession, is accompanied with religious music played on tympani and saxophones and shooting off fireworks, they go through the streets and arrive to the Church, offerings and badges are placed on the altar and is specially adorned with flowers and candles, and then celebrate mass. The entrance and exit of the groups is the part that is colorful and folkloric. At the conclusion of the ceremony, people gather together outside of the church to watch fireworks. The next day, after another mass, the guild leave their church and again travels the streets to the house of the one presiding and the party starts, food is shared among the people. This process is repeated during the days that the traditional celebration.
The guild processions in each village are true fiestas of color, music and traditions. The Gremios are also a wonderful opportunity to witness the intersection of Maya traditions.