Published on September 13, 2013 by Amy
When the Spanish came to New Mexico in the 1500s, they brought with them their Roman Catholic religion. Missionaries traveled to this new territory to bring their faith to the Native American peoples living there, converting many. However, native beliefs and customs persevered and became intertwined with those brought by the Spanish colonists.
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Today, feast days are as much celebrations of ancient Native American traditions and heritage as they are commemorations of Catholic saints. Feast days include traditional dances, cultural activities, food, and arts and crafts vendors. Each dance tells a different story and serves a different purpose. Every dance is considered a prayer, not a performance, and as such, outsiders are privileged to observe them. Drums beat with an insistent cadence and the air is filled with the fragrance of piñon smoke.
Native American feast days allow tribal members to come together in a renewal of their language, culture, and religion. On these days, the communities celebrating a feast day are open to the public, and members of the tribe will prepare a variety of bountiful meals to share with their visiting guests.
Visitors are often fascinated to see that pueblo life is a window to another world. Not relegated to history books or museums, this is a living culture that carries on the centuries-old traditions of their ancestors.