Bendicíon de los Animales (Jan 17). Children’s pets and peasants’ farm animals are taken to church to be blessed – a particularly bizarre sight at the cathedral in Taxco, where it coincides with the fiestas of Santa Prisca (Jan 18) and San Sebastián (Jan 20).

Carnaval (the week before Lent, variable Feb–March). Especially lively in Cuernavaca and nearby Tepoztlán; also in Chiconcuac on the way to Teotihuacán.

Palm Sunday (the Sun before Easter Sun). A procession with palms in Taxco, where representations of the Passion continue through Holy Week.

Semana Santa (Holy Week). Observed everywhere. There are very famous Passion plays in the suburb of Itzapalapa, culminating on the Friday with a mock Crucifixion on the Cerro de la Estrella, and similar celebrations at Chalma and nearby Malinalco.

May Day (May 1). In Cuautla marked by a fiesta commemorating an Independence battle.

Día de la Santa Cruz (May 3). Celebrated with fiestas and traditional dancing, in Xochimilco, Tepotzotlán and Valle de Bravo.

Cinco de Mayo (May 5). Public holiday for the Battle of Puebla – celebrated in Puebla itself with a grand procession and re-enactment of the fighting.

Día de San Isidro (May 15). Religious processions and fireworks in Tenancingo, and a procession of farm animals through Cuernavaca on their way to be blessed at the church.

Religious festival in Tlaxcala (third Mon in May). An image of the Virgin is processed around the town followed by hundreds of pilgrims.

Día de Santiago (July 25). Particularly celebrated in Chalco, near Amecameca. The following Sunday sees a market and regional dances at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas and dances, too, in Xochimilco.

Día de Santa Marta (July 29). In Milpa Alta, near Xochimilco, celebrated with Aztec dances and mock fights between Moors and Christians.

Día de la Asunción (Assumption; Aug 15). Honoured with pilgrimages from Cholula to a nearby village, and ancient dances in Milpa Alta.

Día de San Miguel (Sept 29). Provokes huge pilgrimages to both Taxco and Chalma.

Día de San Francisco (Oct 4). A feria in Tenancingo, with much traditional music-making, and also celebrated in San Francisco Tecoxpa, a village on the southern fringes of the capital.

Fiesta del Santuario de la Defensa (Oct 12). A street party that centres around an ancient church just outside Tlaxcala.

Día de Santa Cecilia (Nov 22). St Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians, and her fiesta attracts orchestras and mariachi bands from all over to Santa Cecilia Tepetlapa, not far from Xochimilco.

Feria de la Plata (Dec 1). The great silver fair in Taxco lasts about ten days from this date.

Christmas (Dec 25). In the week leading up to Christmas, Nativity plays – also known as posadas – can be seen in many places. Among the most famous are those at Taxco and Tepotzotlán.

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