Here we are on M day of the a to z blog challenge in which I’m spending the month blogging about Living in a Mermaid World. I’ve been wondering what to choose for M since just about everything about mermaids starts with the letter M. So many choices… I’ve decided to head to Mexico, a country that I’ve visited many times.
Mermaids, or Sirena in Spanish, are seen quite often in Mexican folk art. Scholars believe that the mermaid myths originally came with Europeans but the indigenous people made them their own as they believed the mermaid to be the goddess Chalchiutlicue, wife of Tlaloc, the god of rain and moisture.
There are a number of mermaid tales in different areas of Mexico. In the southern state of Oaxaca, a story is told about a girl who, long ago, loved to swim in a river. Her mother she didn’t want her daughter to waste time in the water so she forbade her from going to the river. The girl disobeyed and when she tried to get out of the water, she couldn’t. Her lower body had become covered in fish scales and her hair had grown long to cover her body.
(“Sirenita” painted by German Rubio)
Many people in Oaxaca believe that mermaids exist and that the best day to see them is June 24th, the feast day of Saint Juan, when she comes out to sing and comb her hair on the banks of the river. Women in Oaxaca choose this day to cut their hair.
Many artists from this area take inspiration from the mermaids for their art. Interestingly, nativity scenes or creches from Oaxaca often include mermaids along with the Holy Family, angels, wise men, and animals.
Why do you think mermaids became part of the Mexican nativity scenes?