Celebrated in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, this fiesta originates from the Zapotec meaning 'offering' or 'great courtesy'. Individuals within the communities would offer help to one another during big events such as weddings, births and harvest time. Those who received help would then repay the favour - sometimes years later. The date of the fiesta is taken from when the Mexicas conquered the Zapotecs in 1501. The Mexicas worshipped their own gods in July - the Corn Goddess, the Goddess of Tender Ears of Corn, and the God of War. A temple was built on a hill just outside modern day Oaxaca. Twenty years later the Spanish conquered the Mexicas and attempted to convert them to the Catholic religion, tearing down the temple and replacing it with a church.
The Spanish celebrated the feast of the Virgin Carmen around the same time as the local people continued to celebrate their own gods in July. The missionaries changed the date of St Carmen's celebration to a Sunday in late July and held a party for the locals on the following Monday which became known as the Monday of the Hill celebration.
The interest in this celebration has grown over the years and a special event is now organized which lasts about two weeks from the 16th July onwards. There are parades, dancers, a queen of the fiesta is chosen and a story of the history of this celebration is re-enacted.
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