San Mateo Carnavalero

San Mateo Ozolco is a small town on the outskirts of the city of Cholula, in the state of Puebla, Mexico. Immigrants from this community have been settling in South Philadelphia for the past decade. Today over 12,000 people live here—more than one third of San Mateo’s population. Like many other immigrants, people maintain active connections to both current and former homes, working and living here while investing in housing, schools, roads and community life back in San Mateo.

Since 2007, bearded masks, beaded capes, goatskin headdresses, and other costume accessories are among the goods that have traveled from San Mateo Ozolco and Huejotzingo (a larger town near San Mateo Ozolco). These objects are used in an annual celebration called Carnaval commemorating the 1862 Battle of Puebla (also known as Cinco de Mayo), during which Mexican soldiers defeated occupying French forces. A festive, month-long celebration of the battle has been held since 1869 in many towns in Puebla, an important part of community life.

The San Mateo Carnavaleros are a group of men from the state of Puebla and other states who are dedicated to bringing this tradition to the streets of South Philadelphia. PFP organized a Community Folklife Documentation Workshop last year, training local people to document the folklife in their own communities, with a particular focus on how folk arts are used to address displacement.

Events and ProgramsSan Mateo Carnavalero Parade and Performances
Sunday, May 6, 2:00 PM
April 2012 will mark the sixth year that people from San Mateo have recreated the Battle of Puebla historic celebration here in Philadelphia with a parade, performances, and other celebratory activities.Carnaval participants dress as historic characters from the famous, reenacting folk dramas from Puebla. Several battalions, each with its own costumes, dance steps, and general character, parade down South Philly streets to live music performed by musicians from Mexico. People use materials at hand to honor traditions in new living situations. Masks, hats, capes, and detailed accessories ornament caricatures of French, Turkish and Mexican soldiers and disguise the identities of participants.

The parade will begin at Casa Monarca in the morning and end with performances at Sacks Playground (Between 4th & 5th Sts on Washington Ave.).


For more information, visit sanmateocarnavalero.com.