Las Fiestas Patronales of the municipality of Dulce Nombre de María, Chalatenango are fiestas tradicionales that take place annually between December 7 and December 11th. Five different barrios or neighborhoods take part in the celebrations including El Calvario, Concepción, El Carmen, San José, and El Centro. Each of these has its own day to host a parade representing their own saints, which are la Virgen de Guadalupe, la Virgen de Concepción, la Virgen del Carmen, San José, and La Virgen de Dulce Nombre de María respectively. On December 6th, the Salvadoran flag is raised to signal the beginning of the event, and is raised daily for each start in a new barrio. Every morning, throughout the duration of the Las Fiestas, a marching band leads the people of the pueblo around its main streets with cheer and happiness seen all around. Tamales, café, and atol are some of the foods that can be enjoyed by everyone as they converse and come together for an early meal. Also, children can partake in activities that include clowns, competitions, dances, and various games. The music never really stops and Dulce Nombre’s residents are infused with positive vibes and high energy to make the best out of the carnival. Around noon begin the fireworks, “Los Viejos” come out, and parade floats join in on the fun.
Viejos Photo Gallery:
If you would like to see Los Viejos in action, you can take a look at this two minute video:
Afternoon Parade Float
Around 3:30 pm, the first chiming of the church bells can be heard, signaling for everyone to prepare for mass. Every day, mass is held outdoors at 4pm, in whatever barrio’s turn it is to host. Once mass is done, the celebration continues and donations are held for the church. If people make a contribution they can receive fresco de orchata, a handmade paper flower, and a small goodie bag with a bread inside called “marquesote.”
At 10pm the priest announces how much was collected, everyone claps and feels proud as a result of the group effort. The people in charge of hosting in each specific barrio also take the time to thank everyone for their collaboration to the church. Finally, the parade float with the barrio’s specific saint is brought out and everyone follows behind, singing religious hymns. With this, the day comes to a close, a time of merriment and peacefulness for the citizens of Dulce Nombre.
I remember living these celebrations as a child and they were extremely entertaining. I remember being afraid of Los Viejos, but I loved the music and the food. I loved the company of my family and friends as we all shared a good time together. My childhood memories were good for the most part. However, when I compare my memories to those of older family members, people who lived through the Salvadoran Civil War, I think of myself as fortunate because they are memories I cannot even begin to imagine as true, yet they are. I realize that even in a place where there is so much happiness, within it can also live hopelessness and despair.