Each year, taking place on the last Friday of October, the people of Masaya, Nicaragua celebrate the Feast of Agüizotes or Los Agüizotes. This is a traditional Nicaraguan celebration, which honors San Jerónimo (St. Jerome – doctor of the poor, translator of the Bible from Hebrew to Latin, and the patron saint of the city of Masaya).
The Many Masks of the “Agüizotes” - Photo Courtesy of Jorge Torres
The procession consists of both adults and children dressed as scary, legendary characters of Nicaragua, and is based on myths, legends, and superstitions. It begins in the main square, in front of the Catholic temple "María Magdalena", and continues through the avenues of the city. The parade attendees fill the streets and dance to the beat of lively music played by traditional musicians. In their hands are hundreds of candles, torches and homemade lanterns that illuminate their way in the dark, shadowy streets.
Origin of Agüizotes
“Agüizotes” comes from the Nahuatl Indian words “Agui”, meaning water, and “Zote”, meaning horror; therefore creating the word Agüizotes, which means "horrors by the water". Agüizotes is a horror that comes to life through costumes of legendary characters and Nicaraguan folk mythology such as “La Llorona” (the tearful one), ghosts, devils, headless priests, and other terrifying creatures.
The Widow, the Devil, and the Ghost - Photo Courtesy of Southworld
Taking place on the last Thursday of October is the popular celebration “Candle Candle”. The festival attendees carry candles and kerosene lanterns, while dancing to the live, local music. In the light of these candles and lanterns the costumes and masks that will be worn the following night for Los Agüizotes are exhibited. The costumes and masks are created by local artisans and are made out of cardboard, tusa (corn cob leaves), cabuya (henequen fiber), and other various fabrics. Some costumes consist of skulls and bones from dead animals, such as horns from a bull.
Partaking in the Masaya Traditions - Photo Courtesy of ViaNica.com
These popular celebrations are part of the Masaya folklore, and for all those who participate, the eerie atmosphere of these frightful and legendary characters continues to mesmerize.
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