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Moda,Costumbres y Tradiciones

 

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A vejigante is a folkloric character in Puerto Rican festival celebrations (mainly seen in Carnival time). Traditional colors of the Vejigantes were black, red, white, and yellow. Today, vejigantes wear brightly colored, ornate masks of all colors and a costume with bat-like wings. The term vejigante derives from the word vejiga (bladder) and gigante (giant), due to custom of blowing up and painting cow bladders. The masks are often linked to many festivals that continue today, especially in Loíza and Ponce.

Origins of the Vejigante

In the 12th century St. James the apostle was believed to lead the Catholic militia to win a battle over the infidel Moors. St. James is the patron saint of Spain and on his saints day, when people celebrated the Victory of St. James over the Moors, the vejigante represented the Moors with whom St. James fought. By the 17th century it was typical to see processionals in Spain in which vejigantes were demons meant to terrify people into going back to church. Hence, there are references of vejigantes in Cervantes' "Don Quixote" written in 1605. Back then, the vejigante symbolized the Devil in the battle between good and evil. This processional in Puerto Rico has taken on a new face because of the African and Taino influence. The Tainos were believed to be excellent mask makers. Vejigante masks are usually meant as "fright" masks

Fiestas del famoso Santiago Apóstol (The Festivals of St. James the Apostle)

St. James saint day is celebrated and in Puerto Rico with the use of the vejigantes. In today's festivals some believe that the vejigante is a figure of resistance to colonialism and imperialism. The festivals have four main characters: el Caballero (the knight), los vejigantes, los viejos (the elders), and las locas (the crazy women). The festivals in Loiza and Ponce have their own characteristics.

Loíza

In Loíza, the vejigante masks are made from coconut, whose cortex has been carved out to allow a human face. The eyes and mouth are carved out of the coconut with an addition of bamboo teeth. The costume is made of "a jumper" that has a lot of extra fabric at the arms to simulate wings.[1]

Ponce

In Ponce the vejigante masks are made from papier-mâché and usually contain many horns. The jump suit is very similar to the jumpers used in Loiza.


 

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Cultura de Puerto Rico

 

La cultura de Puerto Rico es el resultado de la unión de numerosas otras culturas, entre las que se distinguen tres principales: taína, española, y africana. De los taínos los puertorriqueños han heredado muchos nombres de ciudades, de alimentos y otros objetos; de los colonos españoles la lengua española, la religión católica, la mayor parte de sus tradiciones y sus valores morales y culturales; de los esclavos africanos la bomba y la plena, particulares tipos de música y de danza que incluyen el uso de instrumentos de percusión y maracas. Cabe mencionar que de los africanos también heredamos la pintura puertorriqueña.1

Estudios, resaltan la esencia de la cultura puertorriqueña enmarcada en su “folklore”, folc- significa pueblo y lor- esencia, y responde a ser “el conjunto de las tradiciones, creencias y costumbres de las clases populares”.2 Como parte del mismo, se resalta la música popular e instrumentos típicos, entiéndase aguinaldos, trulla, bomba, plena y trova. En cuanto a sus instrumentos, se encuentra el güiro, maracas (cultura taína), cuatro, tiple, bordonúa y guitarra, herencia española y los tambores, panderos y “marimbolas”, de herencia africana. En adición, el baile es distintivo de la cultura puertorriqueña y se reconoce al baile de las máscaras como gran importancia de la tradición en Puerto Rico.3 El estudio, concluyo que el personaje pictórico de los carnavales puertorriqueños ha pasado de celebración a símbolo en artesanías, cuadros, llaveros, etc. No se olvide que el "folklore", es un tema amplio que abarca muchos temas, desde lo cotidiano, hasta lo social y religioso. También en el folclore puertorriqueño se encuentran costumbres, supersticiones y leyendas como la de La piedra del perro

El antepasado, es un elemento importante, pues muestran las primeras civilizaciones y su marco cotidiano. Estudios, recrean el escenario jíbaro para refrescar aquello que fue olvidado. El jíbaro y la jíbara son personajes distintivos de Puerto Rico,4 que representaban la clase obrera de la antigüedad. Los jíbaros, vestían con camisa, pantalones, pañuelo al cuello, machete y pava. La jíbara vestía blusas, falda larga y amapola en el cabello. Ambos, toman vida en la época navideña y en días conmemorativos a la cultura puertorriqueña. Estos vivían en casas de madera parecidas a los bohíos, sin ventanas ni puertas ( a veces), y con escaso mobiliario.5 Dicho estudio aseguró que todavía estas casas se encuentran en las áreas centrales de los pueblos en Puerto Rico, donde la pobreza es su peor enemigo.

Además del folclore, existe en la actualidad el término “ neonacionalismo”, la identidad de una nación,6 es decir la esencia (cultura y tradiciones). Este estudio fue realizado en la Universidad de Puerto Rico y plantea que Puerto Rico, es territorio americano y que ha sido víctima de la americanización.

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Fiesta de San Juan

La Noche de San Juan es una festividad de origen pagano, no muy antiguo que suele ir ligada a encender hogueras o fuegos, ligada con las celebraciones en la que se festejaba la llegada del solsticio de verano, pese a que éste es el 21 de junio, en el hemisferio norte, cuyo rito principal consiste en encender una hoguera. La finalidad de este rito era "dar más fuerza al sol", que a partir de esos días, iba haciéndose más "débil" —los días se van haciendo más cortos hasta el solsticio de invierno—. Simbólicamente el fuego también tiene una función "purificadora" en las personas que lo contemplaban. Se celebra en muchos puntos de Europa, aunque está especialmente arraigada en España, Portugal (Fogueiras de São João), Noruega (Jonsok), Dinamarca (Sankthans), Suecia (Midsommar), Finlandia (Juhannus), Estonia (Jaanipäev) y Reino Unido (Midsummer). En América Latina, Brasil tiene Festas Juninas, en Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Perú, Venezuela y Puerto Rico, la noche de San Juan. La noche de San Juan está, así mismo, relacionada con antiquísimas tradiciones y leyendas españolas como la Leyenda de la Encantada.

En muchos lugares no cabe duda de que las celebraciones actuales tienen una conexión directa con las celebraciones de la antigüedad ligadas al solsticio de verano, influidas por ritos pre-cristianos o simplemente vinculados a los ciclos de la naturaleza. Sin embargo, en otros lugares (por ejemplo España y Portugal) la existencia de una vinculación entre las celebraciones del solsticio de verano (en el hemisferio norte) que tiene lugar el 20-21 de junio y las celebraciones del día de San Juan (el 24 de junio) varían en función de las fechas, la discontinuidad en la celebración, las tradiciones y costumbres, etc. Pese a ello, se observan elementos comunes como es la realización de hogueras en las calles y plazas de las poblaciones donde se reúnen familiares y amigos.

La vinculación de los ritos ligados al solsticio de verano con otra celebración popular y bastante extendida del mes de junio, las «verbenas de San Pedro» (el 29 de junio), resulta aún menos clara.

En Puerto Rico la festividad de la noche de San Juan es también la fiesta oficial de la capital homónima. Se hacen un sinnúmero de rituales para "despojarse de la mala suerte", como por ejemplo tirarse de espaldas en la playa 7 veces a las doce de la medianoche o bañarse con flores. Siendo Puerto Rico una Isla todas las playas se ven concurridas por cientos de personas. Esta tradición se ha convertido en una verdadera Fiesta de Pueblo, donde la gente celebran con música, baile, comidas y bebidas. Las personas que concurren a las playas esperan ansiosamente que lleguen las doce de la media noche para tirarse y mientras se bañan realizan el ritual antes mencionado. Esto es considerado como una especie de "bautismo" con el cual se aseguran de comenzar una nueva etapa en sus vidas. Lo hacen con la esperanza de que en el mar sean despojados de todas "las malas influencias" y se renueven su vidas con un mejor porvenir. Algunas personas, que no concurren a las playas, de todas maneras celebran la "noche de San Juan" en sus hogares, haciendo otros rituales donde se pueden utilizar frutas, velas, incienso, aguas aroamáticas, figuririllas de San Juan Bautista... Para los puertorriqueños esta fiesta es muy significativa pues como se menciona al principio de este artículo, la ciudad capital de Puerto Rico lleva el nombre de San Juan.

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Moda,Costumbres y Tradiciones

Estatua de Ponce de León

Después del ataque británico a San Juan en 1792, Estados Unidos trajo materiales rescatados de la flota destruida de Nueva York. Casi 100 años más tarde, del bronce de los cañones ingleses hicieron una estatua del explorador español Ponce de León. La estatua fue enviada a San Juan, Puerto Rico, situada en la Plaza de San Josem con vistas a la fortaleza de El Morro en el extremo norte de la ciudad. Esta estatua fue erigida históricamente para recordar a de León, quien navegó con Cristóbal Colón en su segundo viaje a la zona. Fue en busca de la fuente de la juventud, cuando descubrió la Florida. Ponce de León conquistó Puerto Rico, donde permaneció hasta 1512 como gobernador. Además de la estatua del explorador, la tumba de de León también se encuentra en San Juan.

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La Rogativa

En 1797 los británicos se preparaban para un ataque a San Juan por la noche cuando los soldados vieron a un grupo de personas marchando con antorchas cantando. Los soldados confundieron a los manifestantes con las milicias locales y se retiraron, optando por no atacar la ciudad. Una estatua en Plazuela de la Rogativa representa a un hombre y tres mujeres marchando y sosteniendo antorchas en el aire. Este grupo había sido en realidad un obispo local y su congregación realizando una ceremonia religiosa esa noche, y la estatua fue construida para reconocer ese momento histórico en la ciudad, que de otro modo habrían estado bajo asedio. Los visitantes pueden encontrar la estatua en la calle Recinto Oeste y subir la colina cercana a Caleta Las Monjas en el Viejo San Juan.

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Estatua de Colón

Uno de las atracciones para ver en Puerto Rico es la estatua de mármol de Cristóbal Colón en Mayagüez. En 1493 Cristóbal Colón desembarcó en la isla, donde fue colmado de riquezas. A diferencia de otros exploradores, como Ponce de León, no se aprovechó de la gente local. Estaba allí simplemente para descubrir nuevos lugares. Por esa razón, el pueblo de Puerto Rico recuerda con cariño a Colón, por lo tanto, la estatua está en lo que se conoce como la Plaza de Colón o Plaza Colón. Los viajeros pueden llegar a esta plaza siguiendo la carretera PR-102 del descenso de Colón, cerca del centro comercial Mayagüez. La estatua muestra a Colón con una bandera en una mano y una esfera en la otra. Se levanta sobre un pedestal grande y está rodeado por placas de bronce que representan momentos importantes en la vida del explorador. Otras dieciséis estatuas rodean la estatua principal y la zona tiene un flujo regular de turistas que desean ver el importante hito.

 

 

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Roberto Cofresí

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Roberto Cofresí
Pirate
June 17, 1791 – March 29, 1825 (aged 33)

Monument of Roberto Cofresí located in Cabo Rojo
Nickname El Pirata Cofresí
Type Pirate
Place of birth Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
Place of death San Juan, Puerto Rico
Allegiance None
Rank Captain
Base of operations Caribbean, Atlantic
Commands El Mosquito
Battles/wars Capture of the El Mosquito

Roberto Cofresí (June 17, 1791 – March 29, 1825), better known as "El Pirata Cofresí," was the most renowned pirate in Puerto Rico. He was captured and executed by firing squad on March 29, 1825, along with other members of his crew.

Cofresí's life story, particularly in its Robin Hood "steal from the rich, give to the poor" aspect, has become legendary in Puerto Rico and throughout the rest of Latin America. It has inspired countless songs, poems, books and films. The entire town of Cofresí, near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, was named after him.[1]


Early years

Cofresí (birth name: Roberto Cofresí y Ramírez de Arellano [note 1]) was born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.[2] His father was Franz von Kupferschein (1751–1814) and of Austrian descent, born in Trieste, a free city of the Holy Roman Empire. According to Professor Ursula Acosta, a historian and member of the Puerto Rican Genealogy Society, the Kupferschein family emigrated from Austria to Trieste, where Franz von Kupferschein was known as Francesco Confersin.[2] Immigrants were required by the Italian authorities to adopt Italian-sounding names.[citation needed] When Francesco Confersin (Franz von Kupferschein) immigrated to Puerto Rico, he went to live in the coastal town of Cabo Rojo and changed his name to Francisco Cofresí, which made it much easier for the Spanish authorities to pronounce.[3]

Francisco Cofresí met and married María Germana Ramírez de Arellano, whose father was the cousin of Nicolás Ramírez de Arellano, the founder of Cabo Rojo. The couple had four children: a daughter by the name of Juana, and three sons—Juan Francisco, Ignacio, and their youngest, Roberto. Roberto Cofresí was four years old when his mother died.[4]

Cofresí and his siblings went to school in his hometown. Living in a coastal town, the Cofresí brothers often came into contact with visiting sailors. They were inspired to become seamen by the tales that they heard from the sailors who visited their town. Cofresí eventually purchased a small boat, which he christened El Mosquito ("The Mosquito").[2][5]

Cofresí met and married Juana Creitoff, a native of Curaçao, in the San Miguel Arcángel Parish of Cabo Rojo.[2] They had two sons, both of whom died soon after birth.[2] In 1822, Cofresí and Juana had a daughter, whom they named María Bernada.[2][5]

Cofresí the pirate

In 1818, Cofresí decided to become a pirate and organized a crew composed of eight to ten men from his hometown. The men established a hideout in Mona Island, a small island located between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.[6] It was a common practice then for the Spanish Crown to look the other way when pirates such as Cofresí attacked ships that did not carry the Spanish flag.[7]

 
Small schooner similar to El Mosquito

Cofresí ignored the ships that came from other nations including those from France, the Netherlands and England and his attacks were mainly focused on ships from the United States.[8] His dislike of American sailors originated when he was once caught eating sugar from an American cargo ship without paying and was injured by the ship's captain.[7] After this event Cofresí declared war on all of those that operated under the flag of the United States. He often displayed cruel behavior against hostages that were on these vessels, including reports that he ordered that his captives were to be nailed alive to El Mosquito's deck.[7]

Spain and the United States were having diplomatic and political differences, therefore the Spanish colonial government did not pursue Cofresí or his crew as long as he assaulted American ships. The government felt that Cofresí's actions were patriotic.[9] This situation changed because of various factors. Spain had lost most of her possessions in the New World and her last two possessions, Puerto Rico and Cuba were faced with economical problems and political unrest. Cofresí was influenced by the separatist faction which was supporting Puerto Rico's independence from Spain.[9]

Cofresí felt that the Spaniards were oppressing the Puerto Ricans in their "own home" and he began assaulting Spanish ships along with the American and English vessels that were being used to export the island's resources, gold in particular.[9] He did this in order to debilitate the Spanish economy, justifying it by saying that he "wouldn't allow foreign hands to take a piece of the country that saw his birth".[9] On January 23, 1824, Lieutenant General Miguel Luciano de la Torre y Pando (1822–1837), the Spanish appointed governor of Puerto Rico, issued several anti-piracy measures based on the economic losses that the Spanish government was sustaining and the political pressure from the United States.[10][11]

Imprisonment in the Dominican Republic

 
Area where Cofresí and his men operated

On one occasion Cofresí and his crew were captured after his ship arrived at Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. They were sentenced to six years in prison and sent to Torre del Homenaje.[12] Cofresí and his men escaped from prison, however they were captured once again and imprisoned. The group decided to escape once more, they broke the locks of their cell doors and climbed down the walls of the prison's courtyard during a stormy night using a rope that was made of their clothes.[12] The group reached the providence of San Pedro de Macorís and boarded a ship. They sailed to the island of Vieques where they established a new hideout and reorganized a new crew of fourteen men. Cofresí then selected six of them and traveled to the main island (Puerto Rico) where they hijacked a schooner named Ana forcing the crew to jump into the ocean, an incident which they survived.[12] Cofresí renamed the captured ship El Mosquito.[13] They then proceeded to steal a cannon from another ship that was under construction. The crew members of El Mosquito armed themselves, with the weapons found in the vessels that they boarded.[14]

Final years

 
Cofresí's earrings on display at the American Museum of Natural History

Cofresí set out once more to sea in his schooner, with his crew and continued to attack merchant ships in the Caribbean. Among the ships which they attacked was a cargo ship named Neptune. The Neptune's cargo consisted of fabrics and provisions and was attacked while it was docked in Jobos Port, located in the vicinity of Fajardo, Puerto Rico.[15] Cofresí then used the vessel as his pirate flagship. On February 1825, Cofresí and his crew attacked a second cargo ship owned by a company based on Saint Thomas and gained control of a load of imported merchandise.[15] After the assault, the pirates left the ship abandoned in the ocean. Some time later they boarded another vessel owned by the same company and repeated the same action as before.[15]

The people on the coasts of Puerto Rico are said to have protected him from the authorities and, according to the Puerto Rican historian Aurelio Tio, Cofresí shared his spoils with the needy, especially members of his family and his friends being regarded by many as the Puerto Rican version of Robin Hood.[5]

Cofresí's crew continued to assault several ships and on one occasion they attacked eight consecutive ships, including one from the United States.[15] Cofresí's last successful assault took place on March 5, 1825, when he commanded the hijacking of a boat property of Vicente Antoneti in Salinas, Puerto Rico.[16]

Capture and execution

 
U.S. Schooner Grampus (1821-1843)
Note: the "Grampus" was lost at sea with all hands in 1843
and is depicted flying her National Ensigns upside down, a sign of distress.

The Spanish government received many complaints from the nations whose ships were being attacked by "El Pirata Cofresí", as he became to be known. The government felt compelled to have Cofresí pursued and captured.[8] The Spanish government requested the service of three military vessels. These were San José, Las Animas which belonged to Spain and the Grampus which belonged to the United States. In 1825, Captain John D. Sloat, commander of the Schooner U.S. "Grampus", engaged Cofresí in battle.[17] There are two official accounts of this event, submitted by those involved in it.

Spanish government's version

The Spanish government's version states that on March 2, 1825, the commander of the island's south military division requested the service of three military vessels. These were San José, Las Animas and the Grampus, which belonged to the United States.[18] The mayor of the municipality of Ponce asked Capt. John D. Sloat to command a recon mission with the intention of capturing Cofresí.[18] Three American officers and a doctor accompanied Sloat in this mission, they were: Garred S. Pedergrast, George A. Magrades and Francis Store plus a crew of twenty-three sailors were assigned to the mission.[18] The sailors were heavily armed and a new cannon was mounted on the ship. On the afternoon of the third day one of the ships located Cofresí, near the port of Boca del Infierno.[18] When the pirates spotted the American vessel they confused it with a merchant ship, and proceeded to attack it.[18] Both vessels exchanged cannon fire. Cofresí commanded El Mosquito to go near land, but was forced to disembark in the coast and to retreat into a nearby forestal area.[19]

The Grampus' crew sent their sailors to look for the pirates by land, while the ships closed the access to the beach. Sloat estimated that Cofresí had lost a third of his crew in the previous exchange, based on the number of bodies on the water surrounding the boat.[19] Later that day the mayor of the town of Los Jobos issued a statement which detailed the pirate's entrance into the beach, and he subsequently notified the local authorities about the event.[19] A search operation was launched and during the dusk hours six pirates were captured. The Spanish government then sent military personnel to block all the roads and plains surrounding the area. Two of the search groups believed that the pirates would have to pass through a certain road in order to escape and planned to ambush them there. The pirates reached the location at 10:30 p.m. and tried to escape, but were intercepted. Cofresí was injured in the confrontation, which facilitated their capture.[19] His injuries were severe, but a doctor dictated that they were not lethal. The rest of the crew was captured by the police departments of Patillas and Guayama on March 7 and 8.[19]

United States government version

The American version states that Commander Sloat solicited permission for the use of two small ships after becoming aware of Cofresí's latest actions. The report claims that Sloat was aware of an evasion strategy that was used by the pirates to escape when using large ships, which consisted of traveling as close to the coast as possible and thereby avoid being followed. Therefore, he used the small ships in order to pursue them while attempting this strategy.[20] Both vessels were armed and began working in an exploratory manner, traveling through several ports and coastal towns. On the third day while sailing near Ponce, the group located a ship in Boca del Infierno and identified it as El Mosquito (Ana). When Cofresí saw the American ship he confused it with a merchant vessel and began to attack it. When his vessel approached the ship, the ship opened fire.[20] The subsequent exchange lasted forty-five minutes and ended when the pirates abandoned their ship and swam to the nearby beach. Vicente Antoneti who was traveling with Sloat, disembarked and notified the local Spanish military unit about the event. Two of the pirates died in the battle and six others, including Cofresí, were injured.[21

 

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Plena boricua
Orígenes musicales cantos caribeños
Orígenes culturales Puerto Rico
Instrumentos comunes

originales: pandero, guitarra, acordeón, voz

adheridos: güícharo, cuatro, bajo, trombón, saxofón
Popularidad Puerto Rico

 

Plena was born in the working class barrios of Ponce, Puerto Rico about 100 years ago. It was known as "el periodico cantado" (the sung newspaper) because it contained stories about the history and everyday life of the people. Plena's origins can be traced back to the changes in society caused by Puerto Rico's transfer from Spanish to U.S. rule, and the abolition of slavery which caused displaced colonial sugar cane workers to seek economic opportunities in the growing cities of the island. Plena was born of African roots and was transformed into a uniquely Puerto Rican expression by the influences of Jíbaro, native Taino, and European musical traditions, in addition to the contributions of freed slaves from English-speaking Caribbean Islands who travelled to Puerto Rico seeking work.

By the later part of the 20th century, Plena primarily existed as part of our folklore. However, in the 1990s Plena was given new life thanks to music groups in Puerto Rico and New York who modernized its sound for a new generation. Whether folklore or modern sound, it's the panderos -- three or more handheld drums of different sizes/pitches (seguidor, segundo, and requinto), and the guiro -- a gourd percussion instrument of native Taino origin -- that together create the explosive rhythm of Plena. The white "Panama" hats typically worn by Plena musicians will always be a beloved icon of Plena. While it is important to study Plena given the popularity of its folkloric style, it is equally as important because it is a living tradition that is still an active part of Puerto Rico today, marking important occasions in the lives of our people, from birth to death, and even street protests.

References and Suggested Reading

  • Francisco Lopez Cruz, "La Music Folklorica de Puerto Rico", Troutman Press 1967. [Book]
  • Dufrasne-González, J. Emanuel, "Puerto Rico también tiene Tambó," Impreso en Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, 1994." [Book]
  • Dufrasne-González, J. Emanuel, "Los Instrumentos Musicales AfroBoricuas," La Tercera Raiz: Presencia Africana en Puerto Rico, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, 1992.
  • Lopez, Ramon, "Donde esta el golpe de Plena," Cultura, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, Ano 4. Num 8, June 2000, pp87-89.
  • Los Pleneros De La 21, "Somos Boricuas/We Are Puerto Rican: Bomba Y Plena En Nueva York," Henry Street 1996. Excellent liner notes by Roberta L. Singer. [CD]
  • Peter Manuel, "Caribbean Currents: Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae," Temple University Press, 1995. [Book]
  • Smithsonian Folkways, "Puerto Rico in Washington", 1989. [CD]
  • See References and Resources for where to find these treasures and additional suggested reading.

Naguas

Antes de que los españoles llegaran a Puerto Rico, los hombres y chicos nativos no llevaban ropa, y las mujeres y chicas llevaban largas faldas de algodón llamadas Naguas. Se llevaban sin parte superior y representaban la posición de cada mujer, cuanto más larga, más alto su estatus.

 

Guayabera

La Guayabera surgió originalmente en Cuba, y fue diseñada por los españoles hace más de 200 años. La camisa, con forma de chaqueta y cuadrada en la parte inferior, se lleva con una camiseta interior como ropa tradicional puertorriqueña para hombres. Eventualmente, este estilo de camisa se extendió por todo el Caribe y Latinoamérica. Las primeras versiones de Guayabera tenían cuatro bolsillos para llevar guavas, una fruta parecida a la granada. Era llevada principalmente por los ricos, con pantalones o pantalones anchos. La versión formal de la Guayabera se hacía de fibra de piña.

 

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Bomba is a musical expression created in Puerto Rico at the end of the 17th century, by West Africans and their descendants who worked the colonial sugar plantations along the coast of Puerto Rico. Through fiery drum rhythms and improvised dance, the cane workers released feelings of anger, resistance, and sadness about their condition. It was at "Bailes de Bombas" (Bomba Dances) where baptisms and marriages were celebrated, and rebellions planned. For this reason, celebrations were only permitted on Sundays and Feast Days. At Bailes the Bomba, the sounds of drums called "barriles," typically made of empty codfish or rum barrels, drew the crowd into a circle. Dancers took turns challenging the drums, creating a dialog with their movements that the solo drummer answered. It is said that women bomba dancers would typically dance with their skirt raised, showing their slips, to ridicule the attire worn by plantation ladies.

We have families like the Cepedas, Ayalas, Alduen and others to thank for preserving this precious part of our heritage for us. We thank them even more for showing us how bailes de bomba can still be part of our lives today.

 

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References and Suggested Reading

  • Francisco Lopez Cruz, "La Music Folklorica de Puerto Rico", Troutman Press 1967. [Book]
  • Grupo Afro Boricua With William Cepeda, "Bombazo," Blue Jackel, 1998. (Bomba CD, high energy, authentic sound, great liner notes!) [CD]
  • Los Pleneros De La 21, "Somos Boricuas/We Are Puerto Rican: Bomba Y Plena En Nueva York," Henry Street 1996. Excellent liner notes by Roberta L. Singer. [CD]
  • Smithsonian Folkways, "Puerto Rico in Washington", 1989. [CD]
  • Francisco A. Scarano, "Sugar and Slavery in Puerto Rico: The Plantation Economy of Ponce, 1800-1850," the University of Wisconsin Press, 1984. [Book]
  • Peter Manuel, "Caribbean Currents: Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae," Temple University Press, 1995. [Book]
  • Dufrasne-González, J. Emanuel, "Puerto Rico también tiene Tambó," Impreso en Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, 1994." [Book]
  • Paracumbé, "Tambó." CD liner notes, excellent source of information on the bomba of Southern Puerto Rico. [CD]
  • See References and Resources for where to find these treasures and additional suggested reading.

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El desarrollo de la musica puertoriqueña ha sido influenciado profundamente por los ritmos africanos. La bomba de desarrollo

directamente de bailes rituales de los esclavos. La plena es una mescla de diferentes culturas musicales pero depende en gran medida de la tradicion musical africana. Y ambos estilos se desarrollaron en areas de la costa de la isla con alta concentracion de descendientes de africanos.

Algunos de los razgos africanos en la musica puertoriqueña incluyen:  participacion colectiva en la que no hay una linea de distincion entre los musicos y la audiencia, un enfasis en la percusion y el ritmo rico en melodia y el uso generalizado de la llamada y la respuesta. Todos estan bienvenidos y estimulados a participar.

La bomba puertoriqueña se desarrollo en Loiza, un pueblo con una gran concentracion de descendientes de africanos.Se desarrollo de las celebraciones bailables rituales de los esclavos en el siglo 17.El nombre se inspiro de un tambor hecho con un barril  medianamente grande cubierto con un cuero de cabra llamado "bomba". El tambor se hacia unando un baril de bacalao vacio. A esto se le llamaba "baril" y es el principal tambor e instrumento de ritmo en este estilo. Los musicos tambien usan dos pequeños palitos para tocar un patron de acompañamiento secundario en el costado de los tambores. Las maracas tambien hacen parte del conjunto de instrumentos de percusion que se usan para tocar la bomba.

Los participantes del baile de bomba forman un circulo y toman turnos en bailes solos entre los otros individuos y el tambor. Los esclavos celebraban bautismos, bodas y nacimientos con estos bailes de bomba. Por temor a las rebeliones los dueños de esclavos permitian estos bailes solamente los domingos. Las bailarinas de bomba usaban sus faldas para imitar y hacer burla de los dueños de esclavos.

   
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La cultura de Puerto Rico es el resultado de la unión de numerosas otras culturas, entre las que se distinguen tres principales: taína, española, y africana. De los taínos los puertorriqueños han heredado muchos nombres de ciudades, de alimentos y otros objetos; de los colonos españoles la lengua española, la religión católica, la mayor parte de sus tradiciones y sus valores morales y culturales; de los esclavos africanos la bomba y la plena, particulares tipos de música y de danza que incluyen el uso de instrumentos de percusión y maracas. Cabe mencionar que de los africanos también heredamos la pintura puertorriqueña.1
 
 
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Estudios, resaltan la esencia de la cultura puertorriqueña enmarcada en su “folklore”, folc- significa pueblo y lor- esencia, y responde a ser “el conjunto de las tradiciones, creencias y costumbres de las clases populares”.2 Como parte del mismo, se resalta la música popular e instrumentos típicos, entiéndase aguinaldos, trulla, bomba, plena y trova. En cuanto a sus instrumentos, se encuentra el güiro, maracas (cultura taína), cuatro, tiple, bordonúa y guitarra, herencia española y los tambores, panderos y “marimbolas”, de herencia africana. En adición, el baile es distintivo de la cultura puertorriqueña y se reconoce al baile de las máscaras como gran importancia de la tradición en Puerto Rico.3 El estudio, concluyo que el personaje pictórico de los carnavales puertorriqueños ha pasado de celebración a símbolo en artesanías, cuadros, llaveros, etc. No se olvide que el "folklore", es un tema amplio que abarca muchos temas, desde lo cotidiano, hasta lo social y religioso. También en el folclore puertorriqueño se encuentran costumbres, supersticiones y leyendas como la de La piedra del perro

El antepasado, es un elemento importante, pues muestran las primeras civilizaciones y su marco cotidiano. Estudios, recrean el escenario jíbaro para refrescar aquello que fue olvidado. El jíbaro y la jíbara son personajes distintivos de Puerto Rico,4 que representaban la clase obrera de la antigüedad. Los jíbaros, vestían con camisa, pantalones, pañuelo al cuello, machete y pava. La jíbara vestía blusas, falda larga y amapola en el cabello. Ambos, toman vida en la época navideña y en días conmemorativos a la cultura puertorriqueña.

 
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Estos vivían en casas de madera parecidas a los bohíos, sin ventanas ni puertas ( a veces), y con escaso mobiliario.5 Dicho estudio aseguró que todavía estas casas se encuentran en las áreas centrales de los pueblos en Puerto Rico, donde la pobreza es su peor enemigo.
 
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 GRUPO DE BAILE EN LA PERADA PUERTORRIQUENA DE LA SRA. ROSIE LOPEZ EN NEW JERSY
EN EL MES DE JUNIO DEL ANO 2013. TRAJE  DE LA BANDERA.
 
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FLOR MAGA
Puerto Rico's Official National Flower


MAGA

Puerto Rico’s national flower is the flor de maga. The Maga is closely related to hibiscus but unlike the common hibiscus, the Maga is a saucer size flower and grows on a large tree. The maga is native to Puerto Rico and is grown in tropical climates as an ornamental plant, with pink or red flowers.

The flower of the maga tree, Thespesia grandiflora or Maga grandiflora grows near San Juan in north-eastern Puerto Rico. This giant flower is endemic to the humid forests of Puerto Rico, so it can be also found in other areas of the island. It is cultivated mostly as an ornamental tree for the beauty of its very large flowers although it is also valued elsewhere for its durable timber, which is used for furniture.

The Maga flowers are cup-shaped and are 7.5 to 9 cm and 9.0 to 13 cm, broad with five overlapping petals. The Maga flowers are borne singly on long petioles from leaf bases.

Facts
Grows on a tree, not a bush. Flowers between 5-7 years of age. The leaves are heart-shaped, shiny green, usually ranging in size from 5 cm to 20 cm (2 to 8 inches) long. Depends on bats and birds for dispersal

 

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Flor de Maga, flor nacional de Puerto Rico

 

Flor de Maga, flor nacional de Puerto Rico

Flor de Maga, flor nacional de Puerto Rico. Es un árbol atractivo de tamaño pequeño a mediano de aproximadamente entre 9 a 15 metros,  oriundo de Puerto Rico de bosques calizos húmedos. Su nombre científico es Thespesia grandiflora aunque se la conoce mas como flor de maga.

Este árbol fue introducido en varios países del Caribe y el sur de Florida. Tiene tronco grande y áspero, con muchos surcos profundos, sus hojas son  grandes, lisas, de borde liso y con forma de corazón.

 

Sus flores son grandes, abiertas y solitarias tipo hibisco de color rojo o rosado oscuro con 5 pétalos. Produce flores y frutos todo el año, este árbol da un fruto redondo con punta aguda que puede ser carnoso o duro y no se abre hasta madurarse.

Esta especie produce madera valiosa ya que es dura, de textura fina, lustre bajo, pesada y no tiene anillos de crecimiento, se ha utilizado para hacer muebles e instrumentos musicales. Crece mejor en suelos  fértiles, profundos y con buen drenaje.


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Castillo San Felipe del Morro

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Castillo San Felipe del Morro
FortElMorro SanJuan PuertoRico.jpg
A view of Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Location San Juan, Puerto Rico
Coordinates 18.471111°N 66.124167°WCoordinates: 18.471111°N 66.124167°W
Built 16th Century
Governing body National Park Service
 
Official name: Fort San Felipe del Morro
Type Cultural
Criteria vi
Designated 1983 (7th session)
Part of La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site
Reference No. 266[1]
State Party United States
Region North America and West Indies
 
Designated October 15, 1966
Part of San Juan National Historic Site
Reference No. 66000930[2]
Castillo San Felipe del Morro is located in Puerto Rico
Location of Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Puerto Rico

Castillo San Felipe del Morro also known as Fort San Felipe del Morro or Morro Castle, is a 16th-century citadel located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

 

Rundown

Lying on the northwestern-most point of the islet of Old San Juan, Castillo San Felipe del Morro is named in honor of King Philip II of Spain. The fortification, also referred to as el Morro or 'the promontory,' was designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay, and defend the Spanish colonial port city of San Juan from seaborne enemies.

In 1983, the el Castillo was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in conjunction with the San Juan National Historic Site. Over two (2) million visitors a year explore the windswept ramparts and passageways making the castillo one of Puerto Rico's main visitor attractions. Facing the structure, on the opposite side of the bay, a smaller fortification known as El Cañuelo complemented the castillo's defense of the entrance to the bay.

Structure for deployment

Entryway

The construction of the Castillo San Felipe del Morro began in 1539 when King Charles V of Spain authorized its construction, including the surrounding walls. The purpose was to defend the port of San Juan. It was also constructed to control the entry to the harbor. Construction started the same year with a tiny proto-fortress that was "completed" in 1539. This small section comprises perhaps 10% of the structure people see today. In 1587, engineers Juan de Tejada and Juan Bautista Antonelli designed the actual appearance of the castle following well established Spanish military fortification design principles. Similar Spanish fortifications of the 17th-18th centuries can be seen in Cuba, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Veracruz and Acapulco, Mexico, Portobelo and Panama City, Panamá,and many other Latin American locations which were governed as part of the Spanish Empire during the Age of Exploration. The first fort of the Americas, Fort San Felipe, was built in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic in 1540. Many complex additional new structures were added to El Morro over the next 400 years. The outer walls are six meters thick. In 1680, Governor Enrique Enríquez de Sotomayor begun the construction of the walls surrounding the city of San Juan, which took 48 years. By the late 18th century, El Morro's walls had grown to be 18 feet (5.5 m) thick. The castillo was part of the Four Lines of Defense along with the San Cristobal Castle, being the San Gerónimo fortress and San Antonio bridge the first line. Today El Morro has six levels that rise from sea level to 145 feet (44 m) high. All along the walls are seen the dome-covered sentry boxes known as garitas, which have become a cultural symbol of Puerto Rico itself. The El Morro or Port San Juan Light was built atop the castillo in 1843, but in 1908, it was replaced by the US military with the current lighthouse. The original lighthouse was destroyed by US warship fire during the 1898 bombardment of the city. Including the exterior open killing grounds, known as the glacis and esplanade, dominated by cannon in the 17th and 18th centuries, El Morro can be said to take up over 70 acres (280,000 m²).

History

Cannonballs made from stone, iron and lead (16th)

Spanish Rule (1539–1898)

El Morro

During the Spanish occupation of the island, El Morro survived several attacks from foreign powers on various occasions. In 1595, Englishman Sir Francis Drake attacked San Juan with his fleet. He failed, however, the Spanish gunners shot a cannonball through his cabin. In 1598, the English attacked again, led by George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland. Clifford succeeded because he attacked San Juan from land instead of entering through the San Juan Bay. However, an epidemic of dysentery forced him to flee the island.

The Dutch, led by Boudewijn Hendricksz, also attacked the island following George Clifford's idea of invading through land. To the amazement of the citizens, the invaders were able to pass in front of the castle's defenders and into the harbor, where the city's cannon fire could not reach them. El Morro managed to resist the siege and eventually make the Dutch retire, although they were able to sack and burn the city before leaving.

El Morro's last active fight occurred during a naval bombardment by the United States Navy during the 1898 Spanish-American War. Ending the age of naval warfare in the Caribbean, at least in the classical sense. During the Spanish-American War, the castle was attacked at least three times by American naval forces, the most major of which being the Bombardment of San Juan on May 12, 1898.

The short war ended with the signing of Treaty of Paris. Spain ceded ownership of the islands of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States.

American Military Occupation (1898–1961)

El Morro and many other Spanish government buildings in Old San Juan then became part of a large U.S. Army post, called Fort Brooke. In the early 20th century, the U.S. military filled up the esplanade, or green space in front of "El Morro" with baseball diamonds, hospitals, officers' quarters, an officers' club and even a golf course.

United States' first shots of World War I were fired from the castillo's battery in 1915. On March 21, 1915, Lt. Teofilo Marxuach was the officer of the day at El Morro Castle. The Odenwald, built in 1903 (not to be confused with the German World War II war ship which carried the same name), was an armed German supply ship which tried to force its way out of the bay and deliver supplies to the German submarines waiting in the Atlantic Ocean. Lt. Marxuach gave the order to open fire on the ship. The Odenwald was forced to return and its supplies were confiscated.[3] The shots ordered by Lt. Marxuach have been considered as the first fired by the United States in World War I. The first actual wartime shot fired by the U.S. came on the day war was declared, during the Scuttling of SMS Cormoran off another small American island, Guam.

During World War II the United States Army added a massive concrete bunker to the top of El Morro to serve as a Harbor Defense Fire Control Station to direct a network of coastal artillery sites, and to keep watch for German submarines which were ravaging shipping in the Caribbean. A lighthouse, rebuilt by the U.S. Army in 1906–08 is the tallest point on El Morro, standing 180 feet (55 m) above sea level. Flagpoles on El Morro today customarily fly the United States flag, the Puerto Rican flag and the Cross of Burgundy Flag, also known in Spanish as las Aspas de Borgoña, a standard which was widely used by Spanish armies around the world from 1506–1785.

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In 1961, the United States Army officially retired from El Morro. The "fort" became a part of the National Park Service to be preserved as museums. In 1983, the Castillo and the city walls were declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. In honor of the Quincentennial of the voyages of Columbus in 1992 the exterior esplanade was cleared of palm trees that had been planted by the U.S. Army in the Fort Brooke era, and restored to the open appearance this "field-of-fire" for El Morro's cannon would have had in colonial Spanish times. Parking lots and paved roads were also removed, and the El Morro lighthouse repaired and restored to its original appearance. El Morro was used as a film set in the 1996 motion picture Amistad. Steven Spielberg used it to represent a fort in Sierra Leone where African slaves were auctioned in 1839. African slave labor was used in addition to local labor to help build the castillo. El Morro was a defensive military fortification and a major component of San Juan's harbor defense system. Puerto Rico as such was considered by the Spanish crown as the "Key to the Antilles"; no enemy ship could navigate its waters without fear of capture.

View of El Morro's entrance
 
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The Puerto Rican Danza
Para versión en Español oprima aquí

The "Danza" is the maximum artistic expression of the Puerto Rican culture. It is the musical form of the New World that most resembles European classical music. It is a form very rich in melodic and harmonic contents with a very deep character. Some are melancholic and romantic: with long phrases, rich harmonies and three or more clearly defined parts. Others are fast and lively: very short pieces of a playful character. Some are hard to classify in one or the other category, but all retain the essence that characterizes this musical from.

History

The origin of the Puerto Rican danza is not clear, but most scholars agree that it began around the middle of the 19th century (around 1840). During the first third of the 19th century it was very popular in the island of Puerto Rico the Spanish "contradanza" or "counter dance" (a word derived, according to some, from the English "country dance"). This was a very rigid dance, a "figures" dance, in which the dancers had to do specific movements according to the directions of the "bastonero". The "bastonero" was some kind of director who decided how many couples would dance on each dance and the position of each dancer. The first dancer, who was usually one of the most experts on dancing, performed whichever complicated movements or "figures" he wanted and the other dancers had to imitate him on their turn. It is said that many of these dances ended in fights or great discussions when some of the dancers didn't faithfully follow the leader's movements. The bastonero was suppressed from 1839 on and the change began to take place.

Around the decade of 1840 Puerto Rico received many immigrants from Cuba, who brought with them some new music. The "contradanza" was losing popularity, due to its rigidness and the new dance began to displace it. This new music was called "habanera" (from the name of Cuba's capital city, La Habana). The habanera was danced by couples in a very free manner that was liked very much by the youth of that epoch. At the beginning, cuban music was used, but later on Puerto Rican composers began composing their own music and adding their variations and flavor.

 

The first part, called the "paseo", usually consisted of 8 measures , and lacked a rhythmic base but served as a tonal introduction. The second part, which was called the "merengue" (which is the name of a delicious candy made of whipped egg whites and sugar) was extended from its original 16 measures to 34 in 1854 and up to 130 later on. Other parts began to appear and a new musical form began to take shape.

Apparently, the original danza was very unsophisticated and was rejected by some of the high class people of that time (but not by the youth), maybe due to the fact that couples could get very close together and could talk privately to their ears. This caused governor Juan de la Pezuela to emit a decree prohibiting it, but it didn't prevail. Some titles of those first "danzas" were: The tail of the pig; Oh, I want to eat pork chops, and others by the same style.

The form continued evolving until it was taken by the young pianist Manuel G. Tavarez, who just arrived from his studies in Paris, and took it to a new artistic level. His disciple, Juan Morel Campos took it from where he left it and developed it to its maximum expression, composing more than 300 danzas, most of them masterpieces of an exquisite beauty. The evolved danza was inspired mostly on women and love and their titles reflected that change: Margarita, "From your side to paradise", "Laura and Georgina" (one of the most exquisite and popular dedicated to the beautiful Capó sisters from Ponce), "My sorrows", etc. You can see the words of some danzas (in spanish) by clicking HERE

Form

Traditionally, Danzas are classified in two types: romantic and festive. The two variations don't really resemble one another.

The Danza consists of four parts: an introduction or "paseo" (usually of 8 measures), a first theme, a second theme, and a third theme, each one of 16 measures. The third theme is usually more lively or melodic and in it the "bombardino" (an accompanying instrument which sounds very much like a trombone) leaves its role as accompanist and becomes the soloist. After the third theme there is a recapitulation of the first theme and sometimes a coda for the end. All parts except the coda and recapitulation are played twice. There might be variations to this as the introduction of "bridges", parts of 8 measures instead of 16, etc.

Although danzas are mostly romantic, they are characterized by a very peculiar rhythmic accompaniment, played by the left hand when at the piano or by the "bombardino" or trombone in orchestras.

The festive danza is very rhythmic, lively and fast. Good examples of these are: No me toques, Sí te toco, La Cuñadita, El Ciclón, Fiestas de Santa Rosa and many others. In my personal opinion, those danzas should be separated into a new classification of "Super-Festive", because they are pretty different to the others (very similar to a "guaracha"). We could leave the term "Festive" for another group of Danzas that are between the "Super-Festives" and the "Romantic ones". Examples of these are: Maldito Amor, Sara, El Coquí, Un conflicto, Linda Mayagüezana, Gloria, Consuelo and others. These have an accompaniment very similar to the romantic ones, but are played a little bit faster and merrily.

Most of the danzas are instrumentals, for piano or for orchestra, but there are many with lyrics.

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Interpretation

There is a controversy about the interpretation of the danza due to a very particular element present in most of them known as "the elastic triplet". The tempo of the danza is binary but it has many triplets. The "elasticity" of the triplets (mainly in the accompaniment) consists of a license that allows the interpreter to lenghten or shorten those notes at his will to achieve the desired effect. It is something purely interpretative and can't stand a rigid analysis because it really is a violation of the norms of correct music notation.

If the interpreter insists on playing them as written, many won't sound as a real danza! That's why it is acceptable that the performer uses his discretion and good taste in the interpretation of those phrases, according to tradition and not according to the written score. Most of the modern composers have made the adjustment or correction and their danzas can be played as written.

 

To learn how to dance the Puerto Rican Danza press HERE

Press here to see "The Language of the Fan"

The Language of the Fan

Para la versión en español oprima AQUI

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When 19th century puertorrican ladies went dancing, they were always accompanied by their mothers or another adult lady, called "the Chaperona" (Shah-peh-roh-nah), to watch her behavior. They were very zealous so, the young girls invented a way to communicate with the boys without being noticed by them. They used their fans in different ways to convey their messages. I'll present here two versions I have found. It is said that:

 

 
If the lady moved her fan very slowly over her chest it meant: "I am free and available, I don't have a boyfriend"
 
 
If she moved the fan in fast and short movements over her chest it meant: "I have a partner or boyfriend, so keep going".
 
 
If she opened and closed her fan and touched her cheek with it, it told the gentleman: "I like you!"
 
 
If she placed the fan on her temple and looked upwards, it said: "I think of you day and night!"
 
 
If she saw her boyfriend talking to another girl or suspected he was being unfaithful she touched the tip of her nose with her fan, meaning:: "Something doesn't smell good here"
 
 
If she walked from side to side hitting the palm of her hand with the fan, it meant: "Be careful, honey, the "Chaperona" is coming"
 
 
If she opened and closed the fan and then pointed with it toward the garden: "Wait for me there, sweetheart. Soon I will be there with you."
 
 
And finally, if she covered her mouth with the open fan and looked at him very suggestively she was sending him a kiss, and obviously, the gentleman knew he was the chosen one!
 

 


The previous version is taken from a verbal account offered to the author of this pages by singer Migadalia Batiz - source unknown. The next is a version taken from the book "Memorias del Casino de Mayagüez", which is taken from an article in the magazine "La Revista Blanca" tittled "Love conveyed through the fan" :
 
 
Carrying it closed and hanging from her left hand (means): I want to have a boyfriend..
 
 
Carrying it closed and hanging from her right hand : I'm engaged. .
 
 
Fanning very rapidly: I have doubts about you. .
 
 
Closing it very fast: Talk with my father. .
 
 
Resting it closed over her heart: I love you dearly. .
 
 
Resting it closed over her forehead: I am ignoring you. .
 
 
Putting away the fan closed: I'm not going out today. .
 
 
Taking it out of her purse: I'll be out today. .
 
 
Resting it open over her lips: Don't doubt about me. .
 
 
Resting it open over her heart: I want to get married. .
 
 
Giving the fan to the boyfriend: My heart belongs only to you. .
 
 
Taking the fan from her boyfriend: I don't want anything else from you. .
 
 
Covering part of her face with the open fan: We have finished. .
 
 
Dropping down the fan: I'm suffering, but I love you. .
 
 
Hitting her left hand with the fan: I like you. .
 
 
Looking outside: I'm considering if it is good for me. .
 
 
Hitting her right hand with the fan: I hate you. .
 
 
Hitting her dress with the fan: I'm jealous. .
 
 
Resting it closed on her left cheek: I'm all yours. .
 
 
Resting it closed on her right cheek: Be careful, my family is watching. .
 
 
Doing as if she is counting the fan's blades: I want to talk with you. .
 
 
Playing with the fan: I'm in a hurry. .
 
 
Having it open, hanging upside down: Without your love, I prefer to die. .

 

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Cotorra Puertorriqueña | Foto de Tom MacKenzie (FWS)

(Amazona vittata)

Descripción: La cotorra puertorriqueña o “iguaca” (como la llamaban los taínos) es un ave verde brillante con una banda roja en la frente, un anillo blanco alrededor del ojo y las plumas primarias azules. Los juveniles son bastante parecidos a los adultos. Tanto hembras como machos son parecidos y miden aproximadamente doce pulgadas.

Información biológica: La cotorra puertorriqueña llega a edad reproductiva en aproximadamente 3 a 5 años. Las cotorras normalmente forman parejas que duran mucho tiempo. Las parejas permanecen juntas casi todo el año, excepto cuando la hembra está incubando y el macho asume la responsabilidad de proveer alimento. La cotorra construye su nido en cavidades que se encuentran en árboles de gran tamaño como el palo colorado ( Cyrilla racemiflora ). El anidaje comienza en los meses de febrero y marzo, hasta junio. El anidaje ocurre en el periodo más seco del año y durante el periodo de fructificación de la palma de sierra, ya que su fruta es su alimento principal durante la época de reproducción.

Distribución: La cotorra puertorriqueña, ave endémica a Puerto Rico, fue abundante en toda la isla y también en las islas de Culebra, Vieques y Mona. Se estima que cuando los españoles colonizaron a Puerto Rico la población de cotorras alcanzaba el millón de individuos. Actualmente se encuentra solamente en el Bosque Nacional del Caribe (conocido como “El Yunque”) en el noreste de la isla, Rio Abajo y hay varios individuos en cautiverio.

Amenazas: La dramática reducción en el número de cotorras para fines del siglo XIX se debió principalmente a la deforestación para agricultura, la cual eliminó extensas areas de bosque maduro. Ya para la década de 1940 la única población de la cotorra puertorriqueña se encontraba en la Sierra de Luquillo, conocida popularmente como “El Yunque”, al este de Puerto Rico. Entre las causas de la reducción dramatica se incluyen la destrucción de hábitat, la caza ilegal y la competencia por cavidades con especies como el zorzal pardo. El huracan Hugo tuvo gran impacto en la población de la iguaca, reduciendo su población silvestre de 47 individuos a 22 individuos.

Foto en dominio público vía EOL

Medidas de Conservación: La cotorra puertorriqueña fue designada como especie en peligro de extinción en el año 1967. En 1968 se inició un esfuerzo cooperativo entre el Servicio Federal de Pesca y Vida Silvestre y el Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales para recuperar esta especie. El mismo incluyó un programa de propagación en cautiverio que continúa hasta el presente. Otras actividades de recuperación incluyen la construcción de cavidades artificiales tanto para la cotorra puertorriqueña como para el zorzal pardo y la observación de nidos para evitar la depredación y para asegurar el desarrollo normal de los huevos y pichones.

La población en cautiverio se mantiene para varios propósitos: para reproducir cotorras y aumentar su número para asegurar poblaciones adicionales, particularmente en el caso de una catástrofe natural tal como un huracán y para eventualmente poder proveer aves para reintroducidas a los bosques donde habitaban. Actualmente hay cerca de 50 individuos en cautiverio en el aviario de Luquillo.

El Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales construyó un aviario en el Bosque Estatal de Río Abajo para mantener una segunda población de cotorras en cautiverio. En mayo de 1993 se trasladaron 10 aves de Luquillo a Río Abajo para reproducidas y establecer una nueva población.


 


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Felisa Rincón de Gautier

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Felisa Rincón de Gautier
 
 
Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico
In office
January 2, 1947 – January 2, 1969
Preceded by Roberto Sánchez Vilella
Succeeded by Carlos Romero Barceló
Personal details
Born January 9, 1897
Ceiba, Puerto Rico
Died September 16, 1994 (aged 97)
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Political party Popular Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Genaro A. Gautier
Profession Pharmacist
Religion Roman Catholic

Felisa Rincón de Gautier[note 1] (also known as Doña Fela) (January 9, 1897 – September 16, 1994) was the first woman to be elected as the Mayor of a capital city in The Americas.[1]

Contents

Early years

Rincón de Gautier, was born in Ceiba, Puerto Rico. The oldest of nine siblings, she was politically influenced by her father, attorney Enrique Rincón Plumey, nephew of an earlier Mayor of San Juan. Her mother, teacher Rita Marrero Rivera, died when she was only 11 years old. However, despite this, her father was determined to give her the best education possible. She went to school in Fajardo, Humacao and Santurce where she graduated from high school; after this she studied pharmacy and became a pharmacist.[1]

Rincón de Gautier later moved to New York City where she learned the art of high fashion design. When she returned to Puerto Rico, she opened a store called Felisa's Style Shop and a flower shop in San Juan.[2][3]

Women's rights activist

Rincón de Gautier was a firm believer in the women's right to vote and was an active participant in the suffragist movement, motivating many women to register. When the law allowing women to vote was passed, Rincón de Gautier was the 5th woman to officially register. In 1932, she joined the Liberal Party of Puerto Rico, which believed in Puerto Rico's independence, and was named representative by the party's president Antonio R. Barceló. Motivated by the political ideas of Luis Muñoz Marín, she left the Liberal Party and in 1938 helped organize the Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico.[1][2][3]

Marriage and family

In 1940, Rincón de Gautier married the San Juan lawyer Genaro A. Gautier, who served as the Assistant Attorney General of Puerto Rico and Secretary General of the Popular Democratic Party.[1] They had a long marriage, but produced no offspring.

Political career

In 1946, she ran for and was elected mayor of San Juan - the first woman to have been elected mayor of a capital city in the Americas. Under her leadership, San Juan was transformed into a great Latin-American urban center. Rincón de Gautier designed innovative public services and established the first pre-school centers called "Las Escuelas Maternales", which would eventually become the model for the Head Start programs in the United States.[citation needed] She also renovated the public health system and was responsible for the establishment of the School of Medicine in San Juan.

Rincón worked together with Ricardo Alegría to restore and conserve the historical structures of Old San Juan and provided housing and basic services to thousands of people. In 1951, during the Cold War era, she ordered the establishment of the island's first Civil Defense system which was under the directorship of Colonel Gilberto José Marxuach, a relative of hers.[4] She often opened City Hall to the public and listened to concerns of the residents of the city. In 1959, San Juan was awarded the All American City Award.[2][3]

Rincón de Gautier started a Christmas tradition, which would be continued every year by the governors of Puerto Rico. On the Día de los Reyes (Three Kings Day), celebrated on January 6, she would bring gifts and treats to the poor and needy children. On 1952, 1953 and 1954, she even had plane loads of snow delivered to San Juan so that the children who had never seen or played in snow, would be able to do so.[1][5]

Later years

Rincón was mayor of San Juan for 22 years, from 1946 to 1968.[1] Upon retiring, she served as the American Goodwill Ambassador for four United States Presidents. She served in Latin America, Asia and Europe promoting friendship between those regions and the United States. When Felisa Rincón de Gautier died in San Juan, aged 97, on September 16, 1994, she was given the burial honors of a head of state. Dignitaries from all over the world attended her funeral service.[2][3]

Honors

In both Puerto Rico and the United States, numerous public structures and avenues have been named in honor of Rincón de Gautier. There is a Felisa Rincón de Gautier Museum and a parking lot with the name of Doña Fela on Recinto Sur Street in Old San Juan.[6] In New York City, both the Felisa Rincón de Gautier Institute for Law & Public Policy in the Bronx, and a public school (PS 376) in Brooklyn, New York are named in her honor.[2][3]

Awards and recognitions

Among her many awards and condecorations were the following:

See also

Notes

^ This name uses Spanish marriage naming customs; the first is the maiden family name "Rincón" and the second or matrimonial family name is "

       
     

 

 

 

 

 

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El Yunque Rain Forest, Puerto Rico


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El Yunque National Forest

 

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El Yunque National Forest
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
 
Location Puerto Rico
Nearest city Río Grande
Coordinates 18°19′00″N 65°47′00″WCoordinates: 18°19′00″N 65°47′00″W
Area 28,434 acres (115.07 km2)[1]
Established January 17, 1903
Visitors 600,000 (in 2005)
Governing body U.S. Forest Service
Official website

El Yunque National Forest, formerly known as the Luquillo National Forest and the Caribbean National Forest,[2] is a forest located in northeastern Puerto Rico. It is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System. The forest is commonly known as El Yunque, which may be attributed to either a Spanish approximation of the aboriginal Taíno word yu-ke which means "white lands", or the word "anvil," which is yunque in Spanish. The second-tallest mountain within El Yunque is also named El Yunque. El Yunque National Rainforest is located on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo mountains and it encompasses 28,000 acres (43.753 mi² or 113.32 km²) of land, making it the largest block of public land in Puerto Rico. El Toro, the highest mountain peak in the forest rises 1,065 metres (3,494 ft) above sea level. Ample rainfall (over 200 inches a year in some areas) creates a jungle-like setting — lush foliage, crags, waterfalls and rivers are a prevalent sight. The forest has a number of trails from which the jungle-like territory's flora and fauna can be appreciated. El Yunque is also renowned for its unique Taíno petroglyphs

 

History

 

 
El Yunque National Forest map

 

The forest region was initially set aside in 1876 by the King Alfonso XII of Spain, and represents one of the oldest reserves in the Western Hemisphere. It was established as the Luquillo Forest Reserve on 17 January 1903 by the General Land Office with 65,950 acres (266.9 km2), and became a National Forest in 1906. It was renamed Caribbean National Forest on 4 June 1935.[3] It is home to over 200 species of trees and plants, 23 of which are found nowhere else. The critically endangered Puerto Rican Amazon (Amazona vittata), with an estimated wild population of 30 individuals, occurred exclusively in this forest until 19 November 2006, when another wild population was released by the Department of Natural Resources in the municipality of Utuado's Río Abajo State Forest.

 

An Executive Order signed by President George W. Bush on 2 April 2007 changed the name of the Caribbean National Forest to El Yunque National Forest, better reflecting the cultural and historical feelings of the Puerto Rican people.[4]

 

Climate

 

Because Puerto Rico is south of the Tropic of Cancer, it has a tropical climate. There is no distinct wet or dry season in El Yunque; it rains year round. The temperature and length of daylight remain fairly constant throughout the year. All of these factors provide a year-round growing season.

 

Ecology and conservation

 

 
Coca Falls

 

Its ecosystem is specifically surveyed by the Management Team of Ecosystems (Equipo de Manejos de Ecosistemas) which is led by Pedro Rios.[5] Due to its location in the northeastern part of Puerto Rico, the incoming trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean bash into the mountains, leading to an excess of rainfall registered at about 6 metres (240 in) per year.[5] This process is called orographic lift and accounts for the intense rainfall and constant cloud presence in this mountainous region. This constant cloud cover and persistent winds produced by the adiabatic process of air particles rushing up through the mountainside has affected the morphology of El Yunque, but the most effect has been on the bosque enano or dwarf forest.[6]

 

Flora

 

El Yunque is composed of four different forest vegetation areas: Tabonuco Forest, Palo Colorado Forest, Sierra Palm Forest, and Dwarf Forest.

 

Dwarf forest

 

This forest is located at around 900 metres (3,000 ft) and composes the smallest sub-region in El Yunque. The dwarf forest is characterized by the variation of vegetation that is only found in Puerto Rico. The vegetation shows stunted growth in which the diameter of the trunk is widened and the number of leaves on the branches is lower than expected.[6] Other specific factors that affect the growth of this sub-region is the high level of acidity and poor water runoff from the soil.

 

Although many species have adapted to these harsh environments, five species are frequent in the dwarf forest: Ocotea spathulata, Tabebuia rigida, Calyptranthes krugii, Eugenia borinquensis and Calycogonium squamulosum. The other abundant type of plants in the dwarf forest are epiphytes. El Yunque supports a vast array of animal and plant life that varies depending on the altitude range in the rainforest. The great amount of competition in the canopy does not allow lower level plants to develop and prosper.[7] The characteristic of having a widened tree trunk is ideal for epiphytes that require a host to live. Therefore a substantial amount of epiphytic plants have cemented their existence in the flora of El Yunque, specifically in the dwarf forest due to the moisture, precipitation and protection from the sun.

 

Fauna

 

Coqui

 

 
A coquí

 

 

Approximately 15 species of coquí, members of the diverse neotropical frog genus Eleutherodactylus, are known on Puerto Rico. Of these 15, 13 have been found in El Yunque National Forest.[8] This small frog earned its Puerto Rican common name due to the call of the most common coquí species on Puerto Rico, Eleutherodactylus coqui, which begins as the sun sets and ends in early dawn. This has made it an animal of great endearment to Puerto Ricans.

 

Although the coquí is an amphibian it possesses some features that are unusual in frogs. These differences are seen mainly in its morphology, reproduction and developmental stages. In terms of morphology the coquí does not have webbings between its toes mainly because it is a tree dweller in moist environments. Another big difference is that it does not have a definite larval stage and the eggs laid by the female are terrestrial instead of aquatic.[8] This means that a miniature frog-let, rather than a tadpole, arises from the incubation period.

 

Birds

 

El Yunque is one of the two locations with populations of the Elfin-woods Warbler, the other being Maricao State Forest. The species was first discovered in El Yunque. This species of bird is endemic to Puerto Rico and first described in 1972; it inhabits the dwarf (or "elfin") forest at high elevations in El Yunque.

 

The Puerto Rican Amazon, a critically endangered parrot endemic to Puerto Rico, is also found in El Yunque, and for some time, was only known to occur here.

 

El Portal Rain Forest Center

 

Opened in 1996, the El Portal Rain Forest Center is designed to give visitors an introduction to the rain forest. A walkway set at 60 feet (18 m) above the ground allows for a view of the tops of trees, and another walkway winds along tree bases. Exhibits at the center focus on the plants and animals of the rain forest, the importance of rain forests around the world, and threats to rain forests and efforts to conserve them.[9]

 

Miscellaneous

 

El Yunque National Forest was chosen to be Puerto Rico's entry in the America the Beautiful Quarters program. Its only National Park Service site, San Juan National Historic Site having already been featured on the District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarters in 2009.

 

See also

 

 

  Puerto Rico portal

 

 

References

 

  1. ^ "Land Areas of the National Forest System". U.S. Forest Service. January 2012. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  2. ^ "History & Culture". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  3. ^ Davis, Richard C. (2009-09-29). National Forests of the United States. The Forest History Society.
  4. ^ "Executive Order: Renaming a National Forest in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico". Business Wire. 2007-04-02. Retrieved 2008-12-04

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Cockfight

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Cock fight in London, c. 1808
 
A Cockfight in Lucknow, 1784-1786, by Johann Zoffany.
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A Cockfight in zoo.

A cockfight is a blood sport between two roosters (cocks), or more accurately gamecocks, held in a ring called a cockpit. The first documented use of the word gamecock, denoting use of the cock as to a “game”, a sport, pastime or entertainment, was recorded in 1646,[1] after the term “cock of the game” used by George Wilson, in the earliest known book on the sport of cockfighting in The Commendation of Cocks and Cock Fighting in 1607.

The combatants, referred to as gamecocks, are specially bred birds, conditioned for increased stamina and strength. The comb and wattle are cut off in order to meet show standards of the American Gamefowl Society and the Old English Game Club and to prevent freezing in colder climates (the standard emerged from the older practice of severing the comb, wattles, and earlobes of the bird in order to remove anatomical vulnerabilities, similar to the practice of docking a dog's tail and ears).

Cocks possess congenital aggression toward all males of the same species. Cocks are given the best of care until near the age of two years old. They are conditioned, much like professional athletes prior to events or shows. Wagers are often made on the outcome of the match

Cockfighting is a blood sport due in some part to the physical trauma the cocks inflict on each other. While not all fights are to the death, the cocks may endure significant physical trauma. In many other areas around the world, cockfighting is still practiced as a mainstream event; in some countries it is regulated by law, or forbidden outright. Advocates of the "age old sport"[2][3] often list cultural and religious relevance as reasons for perpetuation of cockfighting as a sport.[4]

 

History

 
In this ancient Roman mosaic, two cocks face off in front of a table displaying the purse for the winner between a caduceus and a palm of victory (National Archaeological Museum of Naples)

Cock fighting is said to be the world's oldest spectator sport. It goes back 6,000 years in Persia.[6]

According to one author, there is evidence that cockfighting was a pastime in the Indus Valley Civilization.[7] The Encyclopædia Britannica (2008) holds:[8]

The sport was popular in ancient times in India, China, Persia, and other Eastern countries and was introduced into Ancient Greece in the time of Themistocles (c. 524–460 BC). For a long time the Romans affected to despise this "Greek diversion", but they ended up adopting it so enthusiastically that the agricultural writer Columella (1st century AD) complained that its devotees often spent their whole patrimony in betting at the side of the pit.

The significance of the original name of Mohenjo-daro inferring that the city was "the city of the cock" takes on great significance if taking into account that it has been claimed that the chicken was domesticated in southern China in 6000 BC.[9][10] However, according to a recent study,[11] "it is not known whether these birds made much contribution to the modern domestic fowl. Chickens from the Harappan culture of the Indus Valley (2500-2100 BC) may have been the main source of diffusion throughout the world." "Within the Indus Valley, indications are that chickens were used for sport and not for food (Zeuner 1963)"[12] and that by 1000 BC they had assumed "religious significance".[12]

Some additional insight into the pre-history of European and American secular cockfighting may be taken from the The London Encyclopaedia:

At first cockfighting was partly a religious and partly a political institution at Athens; and was continued for improving the seeds of valor in the minds of their youth, but was afterwards perverted both there and in the other parts of Greece to a common pastime, without any political or religious intention.[13]

The image of a fighting rooster has been found the 6th century BC seal of Jaazaniah, discovered during the excavation of the biblical city of Mizpah in Benjamin, near Jerusalem.[14] It is one of the earliest depictions of a fighting rooster ever recovered.[14][15] This depiction is consistent with the remains of these birds found at other Israelite Iron Age sites, when the rooster was used as a fighting bird; they are also pictured on other seals from the period as a symbol of ferocity, such as on the one engraved on a late-7th-century BC red jasper seal inscribed "Jehoahaz, son of the king",[16][17] which likely belonged to Jehoahaz of Judah "while he was still a prince during his father's life."[18]

The anthropologist Clifford Geertz wrote the influential essay Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight, on the meaning of the cockfight in Balinese culture.

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En Puerto Rico, a diferencia de en los Estados Unidos, las peleas de gallos son consideradas un deporte y forman parte de cultura del pueblo, contando así con ciento veintiocho establecimientos llamados galleras para el desarrollo de este deporte o costumbre de pueblo. Estas se dividen entre Clubes Gallísticos, Coliseos Gallísticos y galleras de pueblo, también están las juagadas clandestinas las cuales son una práctica ilegal, pues, tienden a violar con los impuestos del local, estas jugadas clandestinas pueden conllevar a cárcel y se descubre a una persona por violación de impuestos. Este deporte de peleas de gallos el cual es una tradición sociocultural en Puerto Rico, brinda más de los que muchas personas piensan como acto cruel o maltrato animal, brinda un entretenimiento para el caballero, y un área de recreación sociocultural. La práctica de peleas de gallos la cual la tenemos desde la época de la colonización, significa más que una simple pelea de gallos o riña como se dice, sino que se jugaba por el honor, la dignidad y por su puesto el estado económico de la persona, pues se suelen grandes cantidades de dinero en estas jugadas, las cuales se denominan en juegos de azar.14 Por lo que muchos desean su prohibición. De igual manera para que estos animales sean prósperos se debe de llevar desde su nacimiento una buena crianza de estos ya antes de esto escoger el gallo y la gallina de los cuales se desea castar. Una vez estos pasos hechos se procede a comenzar con el proceso de casta y cría de gallos de pelea, incluso los huevos se tiene que ser escogidos antes de que se echen a incubar y que el tiempo que este sin estar bajo incubación sea moderado para que su embrión no se afecte.15 Ya que este deporte es mundialmente practicado y y el cual tiene personas influyentes que lo practican para que pueda ser ilegalizado en nuestro país y en cualquier otro país, se tiene que demostrar que es más que un maltrato animal, pues es un deporte considerado de los más emocionantes y culturales del mundo y como por supuesto uno de los más antiguos.16

 

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Vejigante

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Illustration of a vejigante mask.

A vejigante is a folkloric character in Puerto Rican festival celebrations (mainly seen in Carnival time). Traditional colors of the Vejigantes were black, red, white, and yellow. Today, vejigantes wear brightly colored, ornate masks of all colors and a costume with bat-like wings. The term vejigante derives from the word vejiga (bladder) and gigante (giant), due to custom of blowing up and painting cow bladders. The masks are often linked to many festivals that continue today, especially in Loíza and Ponce.

Origins of the Vejigante

In the 12th century St. James the apostle was believed to lead the Catholic militia to win a battle over the infidel Moors. St. James is the patron saint of Spain and on his saints day, when people celebrated the Victory of St. James over the Moors, the vejigante represented the Moors with whom St. James fought. By the 17th century it was typical to see processionals in Spain in which vejigantes were demons meant to terrify people into going back to church. Hence, there are references of vejigantes in Cervantes' "Don Quixote" written in 1605. Back then, the vejigante symbolized the Devil in the battle between good and evil. This processional in Puerto Rico has taken on a new face because of the African and Taino influence. The Tainos were believed to be excellent mask makers. Vejigante masks are usually meant as "fright" masks

Fiestas del famoso Santiago Apóstol (The Festivals of St. James the Apostle)

St. James saint day is celebrated and in Puerto Rico with the use of the vejigantes. In today's festivals some believe that the vejigante is a figure of resistance to colonialism and imperialism. The festivals have four main characters: el Caballero (the knight), los vejigantes, los viejos (the elders), and las locas (the crazy women). The festivals in Loiza and Ponce have their own characteristics.

Loíza

In Loíza, the vejigante masks are made from coconut, whose cortex has been carved out to allow a human face. The eyes and mouth are carved out of the coconut with an addition of bamboo teeth. The costume is made of "a jumper" that has a lot of extra fabric at the arms to simulate wings.[1]

Ponce

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In Ponce the vejigante masks are made from papier-mâché and usually contain many horns. The jump suit is very similar to the jumpers used in Loiza.

The Festival Today

Check out these videos for a view of the festivals today.

Resources

References

  1. ^ Loiza Aldea Yearly Patron Saints Day

 


In Puerto Rico when you have los vejigantes

 

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 Reyes Magos

Historia y leyenda

La tradición más difundida cuenta que vinieron de Oriente, en número de tres, y que iban guiándose por una estrella (celebérrimamente conocida como La estrella de Belén) que les condujo hasta Belén. Allí buscaron al Niño Jesús recién nacido y le adoraron, ofreciéndole oro (representando su naturaleza real, como presente conferido a los reyes), incienso (que representa su naturaleza divina, empleado en el culto en los altares de Dios) y mirra (un compuesto embalsamador para los muertos, representando el sufrimiento y muerte futura de Jesús). Antes de llegar, encontraron al rey Herodes el Grande en la ciudad de Jerusalén, quien astutamente les conminó a que, de regreso, hablaran con él para darle noticia del sitio exacto donde se encontraba dicho niño; y, así, poder ir él también a adorarle. (En realidad, lo que quería era darle muerte, por eso ordenó la matanza de los inocentes).

La historia sigue contando cómo un ángel se apareció a los magos y les advirtió del peligro que corría Jesús si ellos obedecían el deseo de Herodes. Así pues, no volvieron por el mismo sitio. Parece ser que, solo por el hecho de que el relato evangélico indicara que trajeron tres dones (oro, incienso y mirra), se dio por sentado que eran tres los personajes que los traían. Aunque también en algún momento las distintas tradiciones han señalado que eran cuatro, siete y hasta doce.

La primera vez que surge el nombre con que hoy conocemos a los Reyes Magos es en la iglesia de San Apolinar Nuovo, en Rávena (Italia). El friso de la imagen está decorado con mosaicos de mediados del siglo VI que representan la procesión de las Vírgenes. Esta procesión está conducida por tres personajes vestidos a la moda persa, tocados con un gorro frigio y su actitud es la de ir a ofrecer lo que llevan en las manos a la Virgen que está sentada en un trono y tiene al Niño en su rodilla izquierda. Encima de sus cabezas se pueden leer tres nombres, de derecha a izquierda: Gaspar, Melchior, Balthassar...

 
Mosaico de San Apolinar Nuovo (Rávena, Italia).

Poco a poco la tradición ha ido añadiendo otros detalles a modo de simbología: se les ha hecho representantes de las tres razas conocidas en la antigüedad, representantes de las tres edades del hombre y representantes de los tres continentes (Asia, África y Europa).

La llegada de los Reyes Magos es un tema tratado también en los Evangelios apócrifos. Según la tradición esotérica aplicada al cristianismo, estos personajes procedían del lugar donde se encontraba el Preste Juan.

Otra leyenda cuenta que, después de la resurrección de Jesús, el apóstol Tomás los halló en Saba. Allí fueron bautizados y consagrados obispos. Después fueron martirizados en el año 70 y depositados en el mismo sarcófago. Los restos fueron llevados a Constantinopla por Santa Elena. Posteriormente, Federico I Barbarroja, en el siglo XII, los trasladó a Colonia, donde hoy reposan con las coronas que supuestamente llevaron durante su existencia. Miles de peregrinos empezaron a llegar a Colonia, lo que propició que en 1248 se iniciara la construcción de la catedral de Colonia, que llevaría más de 600 años terminarla. Hoy día es uno de los monumentos góticos más impresionantes de Europa. Colonia se ha convertido junto con Roma y Santiago de Compostela en uno de los grandes centros de peregrinación. Igualmente, existen leyendas que hablan de un cuarto rey mago.

Los nombres y número de los Reyes Magosreyes21001-w.gif

Según las diversas tradiciones de los reyes magos, el número de ellos varía; así se puede encontrar los siguientes reyes magos:

  • Tres Reyes Magos: Si bien la Biblia explica que fueron tres los regalos otorgados por los magos al Niño Jesús, la primera referencia concreta respecto al número de Reyes Magos la da Orígenes, un conocido escritor eclesiástico, en el siglo IV.11 En el siglo V, el Papa León I el Magno estableció oficialmente su número en 3 para toda la cristiandad.12 A mediados del siglo VI, en la iglesia de San Apolinar Nuovo, en Rávena (Italia) se les asignaron los nombres de "Melchor", "Gaspar" y "Baltasar",13 que supuestamente equivalen en griego a "Appellicon", "Amerín" y "Damascón" y en hebreo a "Magalath", "Serakin" y "Galgalath". Según una leyenda, sus restos se encuentran en la Catedral de Colonia, Alemania, donde se encuentra el llamado Relicario de los Tres Reyes Magos.12
 
Arqueta gótica con las supuestas reliquias de los Reyes Magos, en la Catedral de Colonia (Alemania).
  • Doce reyes magos: Los armenios suponen que fueron 12, por lo que les asignan doce nombres diferentes. Estos nombres tampoco se mencionan en la Biblia.[cita requerida]

Los reyes magos son conocidos también como los Santos Reyes.

Festividad

Con el tiempo, en países de tradición católica, se adoptó la costumbre de celebrar al mismo tiempo el día de la Epifanía (el 6 de enero) y la festividad de los Reyes Magos, conjugándose así la manifestación de Jesús al mundo no judío con la fiesta de estos personajes que representaban justamente ese mundo de gentiles. Poco a poco, se fue olvidando el significado verdadero de la palabra epifanía y la convirtió en un sinónimo de adoración de los Magos.

El día 6 de enero es festivo en Argentina, España, México, Puerto Rico, Paraguay y Uruguay14 en partes de Alemania (en Baviera, Baden-Württemberg y Sajonia-Anhalt), en Austria, Croacia, Eslovaquia, Finlandia, Italia, Liechtenstein, Suecia, y en partes de Suiza (Schwyz, Tessin, Uri y algunas comunidades del cantón Graubünden).

 

Otras costumbres del día 6 de enero

Es interesante notar que, en tiempo de la colonización española, especialmente en Cuba, República Dominicana, Puerto Rico, México y Uruguay este día era de asueto para los esclavos negros que salían a las calles a bailar al ritmo de sus tamboras. Esto origina el nombre de Pascua de los Negros con que el día es aún conocido en algunos países como en Paraguay donde la comunidad Afro paraguaya celebra el día de su santo (San Baltasar).21

Los países de habla inglesa dedican el día 6 de enero a desmontar los adornos de la Navidad. Esta costumbre también se ha extendido a países de América Latina, convirtiéndose el 6 de enero en el último día de la temporada navideña. Antiguamente se celebraban festejos con ese motivo y se cocinaba un pastel en el que se escondía un haba o una pequeña moneda de plata. La persona que encontraba el haba o la moneda era nombrada rey judío o señor del desorden y se veía obligada a encargarse de los festejos de esa noche. Con el tiempo, la fiesta fue evolucionando y se incluyeron bailes de máscaras y representaciones teatrales. Esta tradición dio origen en España al típico roscón de reyes (también llamado rosca de reyes) que se toma en ese día y que esconde una pequeña sorpresa en su interior. En México, dicha rosca tiene en su interior varios muñecos pequeños de plástico los cuales representan al niño Jesús; aquella persona que en el momento de partir la rosca encuentra alguno de ellos, es encargado de hacer o invitar tamales y atole el 2 de febrero, día de la Candelaria.

En el año 1601 los abogados de Londres encargaron a Shakespeare una obra de teatro que se tituló Noche de Reyes y fue representada ante la reina Isabel I.

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Spanish customs

 
The Three Wise Men receiving children at a shopping centre in Spain. Letters with gift requests are left in the letterbox on the left-hand side.

Western Christianity celebrates the Magi on the day of Epiphany, January 6, the day immediately following the twelve days of Christmas, particularly in the Spanish-speaking parts of the world. In these areas, the Three Kings ("los Reyes Magos de Oriente", also "Los Tres Reyes Magos" and "Los Reyes Magos") receive letters from children and so bring them gifts on the night before Epiphany. In Spain, each one of the Magi is supposed to represent one different continent, Europe (Melchior), Asia (Caspar) and Africa (Balthasar). According to the tradition, the Magi come from the Orient on their camels to visit the houses of all the children; much like Santa Claus with his reindeer, they visit everyone in one night. In some areas, children prepare a drink for each of the Magi. It is also traditional to prepare food and drink for the camels, because this is the only night of the year when they eat.

  • In Spain, Argentina, México, Paraguay and Uruguay, there is a long tradition for having the children receive presents by the three "Reyes Magos" on the night of January 5 (Epiphany Eve) or morning of January 6. Almost every Spanish city or town organises cabalgatas in the evening, in which the kings and their servants parade and throw sweets to the children (and parents) in attendance. The cavalcade of the three kings in Alcoy claims to be the oldest in the world, having started in 1886. The Mystery Play of the Three Magic Kings is also presented on Epiphany Eve. There is also a "Roscón" (Spain) or "Rosca de Reyes" (Mexico) as explained below.
  • In the Philippines, the concept of the Three Kings (Filipino: Tatlóng Harìng Mágo, lit. "Three Magi Kings"; shortened to Tatlóng Harì or Spanish Tres Reyes) follows Hispanic influence, with the Feast of the Epiphany is considered by many Filipinos to be the traditional end of the long local Christmas season. The tradition of the Three Kings' cabalgata is today done in only some areas, such as the old city of Intramuros in Manila, and the island of Marinduque. Another dying custom is to have children leave shoes out on Epiphany Eve to receive sweets and money from the Three Kings, much in the same fashion as European children do for St. Nicholas on December 25. With the arrival of American culture in the early 20th century, the Three Kings as gift-givers have been largely replaced in urban areas by Santa Claus, and they survive in the greeting "Happy Three Kings!" and the surname Tatlóngharì.
  • In Paraguay, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, children cut grass or greenery on January 5 and put it in a box under their bed for the Kings' camels. Children receive gifts on January 6, which is called Día de Reyes, and is traditionally the day in which the Magi arrived bearing gifts for the Christ child. Christmas starts in December and ends in January after Epiphany, although in Puerto Rico there are eight more days of celebration (las octavitas).

Campaign for a real black Balthazar in Spain

In Spain there has been a growing concern over the fact that Balthazar is commonly played by a white person in blackface.[46][47]