"La amistad es lluvia de flores preciosas"
"Friendship is like a shower of precious flowers"
Valentine's Day El Día del Amor y la Amistad
As this fragment of a beautiful Aztec poem illustrates, since pre-Columbian times Mexicans regard friendship very highly, considering it a precious gift of life. Nowadays in Mexico, as in the rest of the world, we celebrate on February 14 El Día de San Valentín (Valentine's Day) popularly named El Día del Amor y la Amistad- the day of love and friendship.
All over town there are balloon vendors offering their colorful heart shaped declarations of love, for most of them have written on them "Te Amo" -I love you- "Para mi amor"-for my love, or "Felicidades" -congratulations. Delicious chocolates, as well as flowers, especially red roses, and greeting cards are also sold in every store.
If in Mexico, don't even try to go to a restaurant with out a reservation made weeks before. Couples of all ages go out for dinner on this special date.
As you can see, El Día del Amor y la Amistad is commemorated in Mexico in a way very similar to the manner in which the rest of the world celebrates, but surely, friendship and marriage had different expressions in pre-Columbian times.
Let us explore how an Aztec wedding was performed.
An Aztec Wedding
Aztec society was very structured and established rules that regulated almost all aspects of life. Regarding marriage, a young Aztec boy was able to get married only after he reached the age of 20. Most of them got married between the ages of 20 and 22.
Marriage was arranged between families, which meant that the young couple had little say in the matter, as it was in most ancient societies. Of course there were some exceptions, and sometimes a young couple fell in love , and with the authorization of both families got married.
The first requirement to fulfill, in order to celebrate the matrimony, was that the young man had to complete his education and obtain permission from his teachers to leave school.
His family would have to offer a banquet for the teachers, in which they would ask for the necessary permission. They would have to prepare many dishes for this occasion including tamales and cacao or chocolate.
Afterwards, the old relatives of the groom, his father and the men of the neighborhood spoke to the educators while showing them an ax "that symbolizes the desire of this young man to cut the ties that bind him to you, since he wants in his heart to get married; take this ax and permit our son to be liberated."
The teachers proceeded to accept the ax as a symbol of their consent and after delivering a sermon in which they admonished the young man to always obey the gods, to be honorable, to be a good provider for his wife and family and a brave warrior when at war, they left the house. ¡Obviously without any hard feelings!
The Young Bride
The parents of the groom carefully selected the bride for their son, requesting the advice of the most respected fortunetellers. The wizards would study the signs under which each of the chosen girls was born, and then suggest the ideal bride for him.
A couple of old women from the neighborhood called cihuatlanque, requested on behalf of the groom's parents, permission from the girl's family for the marriage to take place. Traditionally the first time they visited the family, the parents denied their consent. On the second visit, a couple of days later, and after a family council, their authorization was granted. Once again they feasted for several days, happy to have the two families joined by their children's wedding.
The date for the ceremony was selected, once again by the fortunetellers, so the couple would have the best possible future together!
The Wedding Ceremony
On that special date, selected with so much love and faith in the promising future, the wedding was celebrated at night at the groom's home. On that day, but in the afternoon, the bride participated on a ritual bath, washed her hair. Then she had her arms and legs decorated with red feathers, and her face was painted with a yellow pigment.
The boy's family arrived and after telling her that they were very happy to have her be a part of their family, and showering her with presents, they all guided the girl to her new home. They walked through the streets, carrying torches, and singing all the way.
When they arrived, the girl was handed an incensory. The boy welcomed his bride at the door holding an other incense burner. They exchanged this incense as a symbol of respect to one another.
They entered singing and dancing to their new home, where the old women, the cihuatlanque, would tie their blouses together.
Then they were formally declared man and wife, and of course, another bountiful feast was given to celebrate such a fortunate event.
©1999-2012 Inside Mexico All rights reserved.
All articles, images, pictures and design contained in this website are the property of Inside Mexico and protected by copyright law. NO part of this site can be used without
We will be glad to authorize, upon request,
educational non-profit projects and require that credit be
given to Inside Mexico and a link back to our site.