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Venezuela
Traditional Fests
JANUARY

Paradura del Niño (Holy Child’s first step)
Date: from January 6th to February 2nd / Location: Mérida State
Family party around Baby Jesus image. The use is to wake and hide the holy image and everybody searches it until the arrival of the previously selected Christmas manger, where it is put in a throne. Special food and drinks are offered to guests. Carrols and “aguinaldos” (Venezuelan traditional Christmas songs) cheer the place.

Fiestas de la Divina Pastora (Our Lady the Divine Shepherdess’ Fair)
Date: January 14th / Location: Lara State
Every year, a crowd of almost 2 million of devoted people from all the country takes the Divine Shepherdess’ image from her church in Santa Rosa to Barquisimeto in a day long parade, where she is received by an open air huge Holy Mass.

Día de la Virgen de la Candelaria (Our Lady of Candles Feast)
Date: February 1st to 2nd / Location: Mérida and Portuguesa States and Caracas (Capital District)
Solemnity celebrated in Our Lady’s honor. In Mérida is celebrated with dances, in which dancers wear  bright colors, beautifully sewed jackets, thick fabric belts, silk capes adorned with spangles or bright paper. On their heads, wide hats. In Portuguesa State and in Caracas, cheered popular, cultural, sports and religious programs are held mostly by Canarian origin descendants, culminating with a massive night parade of Our Lady’s sacred image. In some places, it marks the beginning of the Carnival feasts.

FEBRUARY
 
Carnival Festivals throughout the country
Date: February or March / Location: El Callao (Bolívar), Carúpano (Sucre), Mérida (Mérida) and Puerto Cabello (Carabobo), Vargas State and the Cocoa Route in Miranda and Aragua States.
Parades, templates, costumes, contests, popular dances. In some cities this dances have more importance. In El Callao, during Carnival celebration, a series of glamorous parades are organized, where cylindrical drums are part of these and along with the dances conform a particular musical gender known as Calypso, which is notably influenced by Antilles culture. The same happens in Carúpano. In Mérida, Carnivals are celebrated under the name of Mérida’s International Sun Fair, with bullfights, exhibitions, diverse shows, popular dances, fishtailed bulls, traditional handcrafts, food and drinks from the region. At the Cocoa Route and in Vargas, at the end of the Carnival, on Ash Wednesday, a funny representation called the Sardine’s Burial (“Entierro de la Sardina”) is held with the enthusiastic participation of all people in the beach.

Día de la Juventud (Youth Day)
Date: January 12th / Location: Caracas
It is celebrated on this date the Venezuelan Youth Day, commemorating the Battle of La Victoria, won in 1814 by José Félix Ribas with youths from the Seminar and the University of Caracas. The main events of this day are performed in the city of Victoria, in the main square named after the hero José Félix Ribas.

MARCH
Fiesta de la Virgen de Betania (Our Lady Mother and Reconciler of All People)
Date: March 24th to 25th / Location: Finca Betania (Miranda)
Solemnity celebrated in honor of Our Lady’s first apparition before a group of people from Bianchini family, led by the main witness María Esperanza Medrano de Bianchini, in 1976. From that day on, and mostly since 1984, thousands of pilgrims flock the place, with prayers, night vigil and Holy Mass celebrations.

APRIL

Procesión del Nazareno de San Pablo (Saint Paul’s Nazarene Procession)
Date: March - April, on Holy Wednesday / Location: Caracas
Religious festivity in honor of the Blessed Image of Jesus taking the Cross, known as the Nazarene, which is venerated in Santa Teresa’s Basilica. This tradition took place since the Colony and it is celebrated every Holy Wednesday. The promises payers wear violet costumes, in a similar way of the clothing of the Nazarene, and bring Him thousands of fragrant orchids to ornate the image. There are some other processions representations of the Passion of Christ on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in many towns like in Caripito (Monagas) and Tostós (Trujillo), but none equals that of the Nazarene in Caracas. At the end of the Holy Week, on Resurrection Sunday, there is the Burn of Judas in every corner of the city and in every town.

MAY

Día del Trabajador (Labor Day)
Date: May 1st. / Location: Nationwide
Labor Day holiday is declared and mandatory paid for workers in general, including those who carry out their duties in agriculture and farming. During this time, no work may be carried out in enterprises or establishments under the Labour Law and Labour Regulation in agriculture and farming. Excluded especially those tasks identified by the statutes.

Velorio de la Cruz de Mayo (May Holy Cross’ Vigil)
Date: All May, mostly the first week end of the month / Location: All around the country
Summer Solstice’s party, celebrated especially in the east, center and west of Venezuela. It consists on he veneration of the Holy Cross, which is decorated with flowers and garlands and people pray and sing "coplas". These manifestations bear variations of the music and other elements according to the region. 

JUNE
Diablos danzantes (Dancing Devils)
Date: Corpus Christi Days, May or June / Location: San Francisco de Yare (Miranda), Patanemo (Carabobo), Chuao (Aragua), Naiguatá (Vargas).
Folkloric festivity that takes place since Thursday to Sunday of Corpus Christi. It consists on the payment of promises from the devotes to the Eucharistic Body of Jesus Christ, by doing a procession and dance around the town’s square in front of the church, wearing as devils. According to the place, they have some differences on their costumes, musical instruments and other elements.

Tambores de San Juan (Saint John’s Drums)
Date: June, from 23rd to 28th / Location: Curiepe, Higuerote and Birongo (Miranda), Chuao, Cuyagua, Cata and Ocumare de la Costa (Aragua)  
The mina, the curbeta, the tambor redondo and the "culo ‘e puya" resound invitingly sensual. The town, confused with the visitors, gathered on the streets to dance rhythmically to the sound of the "fulía" sung by a local woman or man, with African flavor. Religious and popular acts to express adoration to the saint. Mass dances, songs and touches of drums with special characters participation: The biggest brother, the biggest sister, the foreman and the captain.   

Parranda de San Pedro (Saint Peter’s Spree)
Date: June 28th and 29th / Location: Guatire and Guarenas (Miranda)  
Colorful procession carried out by Saint Peter’s devotes. Rosa Ignacia, character interpreted by a man dressed as a woman, invokes San Pedro’s favor for her daughter’s María Ignacia cure (a rag doll held in her arms), dancing next to the “coticeros” and to the “tucusitos”. 
 
Batalla de Carabobo (Carabobo’s Battle)
Date: June 24th / Location: Nationwide
The battle of Carabobo secured the independence of Venezuela. The last stronghold of the royalists, the castle of Puerto Cabello, fell under the arms of José Antonio Páez.

JULY
Día de la Independencia (Independence Day)
Date: July, 5th. / Location: Nationwide.
On July 5, 1811 Congress formally declares the Independence of Venezuela, "in the name of God Almighty."

Natalicio de Simón Bolívar (Simon Bolivar’s Birth)
Date: July, 24th. / Location: Caracas.
Simón Bolívar was born in Caracas on July, 24th, 1783. He was baptized on July, 30th in the Cathedral of Caracas by clergyman Juan Félix Jerez y Aristeigueta,a relative of his.

AUGUST
Feria del Orinoco (Fair of the Orinoco River)
Date: August last week / Location: Ciudad Bolívar (Bolívar)
Before called "Fair of the Sapoara". This celebration belongs together with the overcome of the river for this autochthonous fish for their spawn waters up the Orinoco. Among the events that are carried out there is an industrial and cattle exhibition, bull rodeo (“toros coleados”), sapoara fishing competition, Orinoco water sports competitions, popular dances and calypsos.

SEPTEMBER
Fiestas Patronales de la Virgen del Valle (Our Lady of the Valley Patron Feasts)
Date: September 07th to 15th / Location: Margarita Island (Nueva Esparta) and the Eastern Coasts
These parties last 8 days. Processions. During the festivities, Margarita Island and especially the village of El Valle del Espíritu Santo (Holy Spirit Valley) displays its flavor and typical coloring of the region: its characteristic products sales, typical folk and musical groups orchestras at the streets, popular dances, fish and shellfish typical dishes. The same takes place in other cities along Venezuela’s Eastern Coast, including seafront processions.

Fiestas de la Virgen de Coromoto, Patrona de Venezuela (Venezuela Saint Patroness, Our Lady of Coromoto Feasts)
Date: From August 30th to September 11th / Location: : Guanare (Portuguesa) and some other cities in the rest of the country.
The Virgin of Coromoto coronation as Venezuela Saint Patroness is celebrated with pilgrimages, a huge religious ceremony including Holy Masses, the payment of promises, and popular amusements, mostly in the place of the first apparition of Our Lady, in the city of Guanare, in 1652. A massive shrine was built on the site during the 1980’s and has been inaugurated by Pope John Paul II in his second trip in 1996. During these days, Guanare is flocked by Venezuelan, Antilles and European pilgrims. In the rest of the country, the feast is held on September 11th, day of the National Coronation of Our Lady in 1952. 

NOVEMBER
Feria Internacional de La Chinita (La Chinita International Fair)
Date: from November 15th to 22 / Location: Maracaibo (Zulia)
It has their origin in the patron parties in honor of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá, known affectionately as “La Chinita”. Religious activities, bagpipe processions, chants in honor of "La Chinita", agricultural exhibitions, artistic and sport shows, bullfights. It marks the beginning of Christmas parties in the region.

DECEMBER
Fiestas de la Inmaculada Concepción y de la Virgen de Guadalupe (Inmaculate Conception and Our Lady of Gaudalupe Feasts)
Date: December 07th to 15h / Location: Margarita Island (Nueva Esparta), Betania y Carrizal (Miranda), El Carrizal (Falcón) and the Eastern Coasts
These parties last 2 days. Processions. During the festivities, Margarita Island and especially the village of El Valle del Espíritu Santo (Holy Spirit Valley) displays its flavor and typical coloring of the region: the island’s characteristic products sales, typical folk and musical groups orchestras at the streets, popular dances, fish and shellfish typical dishes. The same activities take place in other cities along Venezuela’s Eastern Coast, including seafront processions. In Betania and Carrizal, prayers, night vigil and Holy Mass celebrations with thousands of pilgrims. In El Carrizal, near Coro, Our Lady of Guadalupe fests are celebrated as if one is in Mexico, with dances and huge public celebrations. 

Muerte de Simón Bolívar, El Libertador (The Liberator Simón Bolivar’s Death)
Date: December 17th / Location: All over the country
Feast in honor of The Liberator Simón Bolívar’s death. This happened in Santa Marta, Colombia, in 1830, at the end of the Continental war of Independence from Spain. Every town, city and village has a flower gift to every monument dedicated to The Liberator. Civic and military acts. The main events take place in Caracas, Maracaibo, Puerto Cabello and the Central Coast.

Nochebuena y Navidad (Christmas Eve and Christmas Parties)
Date: from 17th to 25th / Location: Nationwide
In Caracas and other populations of the country, it is traditional the skating starting from the first mass of Christmas gifts, from December 17th‘s dawn to 24th in the afternoon. There is a beautiful tradition that takes place in the night of December 24th in San Joaquín (Carabobo): shepherds with their spree leave to travel San Joaquíns streets, addressing to the church, singing, dancing and making figures. They enter in the temple guided by the "estrellero" (a man holding a star with candles) and they lay on the floor as they were sleeping. When concluding the Holy Rooster Mass, an angel announcing Baby Jesus birth appears to them, then the shepherds begin to sing and they make offerings to the Boy, then they go to the city's main square to execute their dances. In the rest of the country some dances are similar.

Locainas y Fiestas de los Santos Inocentes (Mockeries and Holy Innocents Feasts)
Date: from December 28th to January 5th / Location: Nationwide
People of both sexes go down for the streets, doing diverse dances, with some theater elements. They wear expensive dresses and dark make-up, facial or corporal painting. They accompany themselves with typical instruments, generally elaborated by the members of the procession. In Monagas State, the Dance of the Monkey. In Lara State, the dances called “Zaragozas”. In Mérida state, the Dance and procession of Saint Benoit of Palermo (“San Benito de Palermo”), one of Venezuela’s Holy Innocents’ most popular celebration, is accompanied with drums and fake shootings, which makes this the most colorist of all.
Traditional Fests and Holidays in Venezuela are marked by a deep religious influence of Catholic and pagan origins. Throughout the country, different regional celebrations take place and it is not uncommon to see processions during all the year to praise virgins and saints. During national Holidays, official acts are held and public offices are closed. In general terms, Venezuelan people are very festive and they always find a reson to celebrate and joke about.
Paradura del niño
Fiesta de la Divina Pastora
Carnivals
Virgen de Betania
Procesión del Nazareno
Diablos Danzantes de Corpus Christi
Tambores de San Juan
Fiestas Patronales de la Virgen del Valle
Fiestas Patronales de la Virgen de Coromoto
Nochebuena y Navidad
Locainas y Fiestas de los Santos Inocentes