November’s Fiestas de San Andres are an anxiously awaited time in Ajijic. For many local families the nine days from Sunday, November 22 through Monday, November 30 honoring the patron saint of the village are the most exciting and devout days of the year.
Every town, barrio and church in Mexico has a patron saint. The Spanish missionaries added the name of San Andres (St. Andrew) the fisherman onto Ajijic, the name used by the indigenous.
The nine days of prayers, rosaries and masses for St. Andrew are a devotion of gratitude and thanksgiving for the blessings and successes of the previous year and a petition to ask for his continued protection and intersession in the coming year.
To the uninitiated, the role of the church is not immediately apparent when barrages of pre-dawn cohetes, (imagine three-foot long pop bottle rockets) sound more like a revolution than a religious event. The fireworks serve a dual purpose; they awaken the folks responsible for leading off the 5:30 a.m. rosary and procession. Some residents may still recall the pre-Hispanic beliefs. The Aztecs thought sudden loud noises drove evil form an area. Others believed that prayers followed smoke into the sky and directly to God.
In their procession on Friday, November 27, 6:30 p.m., farmers and ranchers will carry lanterns or pitch torches instead of the flashlights or candles used by other groups. Saturday, November 28 is sponsored by the construction workers, and all of the services and stores that are associated with them. Sunday’s activities are sponsored by gardeners and the worker’s union.
The final day, and often the most emotional one, is sponsored by the Ajijic natives who live and work in the United States. Crossed U.S. and Mexican flags often mark the final castillo, a symbol of Ajijic’s hijos ausentes who are remembering their home, family and church.