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— Muy Confundida

Dear Very Confused Chica: “Self-respect” and “Mexicans” in regards to fiestas go together like “logic” and “Republicans” on America’s immigration issues. Your husband is largely right: matanzas, for the rest of us non-New Mexis, usually involve the slaughtering of a pig just before winter to provide the pueblo with hundreds of pounds of lard, meat, blood, and all the other bounty our tasty porcine friends provide us. Some scholars also posit that matanzas were Hispanic rituals dating back centuries, with the pig the center of the feast: since the Moorish rulers of the Hispanos’ ancestors and the Jews they always despised couldn’t eat pig, the feast was a great way for Spaniards and their descendents smoke out any marranos or moriscos from the pueblo’s ranks and into the bonfire. Maybe, but the Mexican always felt matanzas (“killings” en inglés) were always more like the Pacific Northwest tradition of potlaches, where men would compete with each other to see who could throw the biggest feast and treat others the best. And that, my dear amiga, ain’t tied to any other tradition but the eternal quien-es-más-macho ritual of hombres.

 

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