On this day in 1862, Mexico defeated France at La Batalla de Puebla. Winning the battle but losing the war, May Fifth is not a Mexican national holiday. But it is a day of merriment in the state of Puebla, in the capital (Mexico City) and in tourist towns, and a big day for Mexican culture in the United States (however commercialized and skewed, much like St. Patrick’s Day), so I thought I’d share some Mexican postcards.
From this stamp and postmark and the postmark on the front, it seems Mamá Snail mailed the postcard from Mérida, and it was relayed to the post office in the Southern California city of Santa Ana, before reaching Abuela y Abuelo Snail in Los Angeles.
Abuela y Abuelo Snail brought this postcard back from a vacation to Puerta Vallarta with Abuelo Snail’s brother and his family. Abuelo Snail loved to travel (see his postcards from midcentury Hawaii and Micronesia.) Abuela Snail, however, has always been fearful of leaving her familiar Los Angeles and didn’t want to go on the trip…but Tío Babe convinced her. She’d been his girlfriend until he introduced her to his brother, my grandpa. Abuela Snail is headstrong, but Tío Babe always held a certain sway over her. She ended up having a wonderful time in Puerta Vallarta, and was so glad she went because it was the last trip she and Abuelo Snail took together before he passed away.
The ancient Mayan city of Chichen-Itza is of course most famous for the pyramid at the center of these postcards. Although it’s called El Castillo in Spanish, it was not a castle, but an observatory of sorts. At three p.m. on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, the sun hits the balustrades of the western stairway, giving the effect of a chain of triangles. Visible in the first Chichen-Itza postcard, this lit-up chain runs down to a carved stone serpent’s head at the base of the stairs! This is Kukulkan, the feathered serpent, apparently signaling the time for spring and fall agricultural practices.
For more Mexican and Latino cultural postcards, check out the Dia de los Muertos post!