Since so many other holiday events are different in Mexico, you’re probably assuming that Valentine’s Day, one of the most simply defined events, is celebrated the same as in other parts of North America.
While chocolate hearts, stuffed animals and bouquets of flowers can be found, the truth is Valentine’s Day here has a different meaning for Mexicans. In Mexico as the most romantic day of the year draws to a near, locals who wish to marry have their minds racing on registration forms and wedding apparel.
The reason couples are focused on registration forms and wedding dresses is not just because it’s Valentine’s Day, but because it’s the day of the collective wedding.
Each February 14, hundreds towns and cities across the country host what is called a collective wedding. It is an event that is sponsored by the municipal governments that is intended to help those marry who could not otherwise afford it.
The cities and towns hosting the event choose a large area to adequately accommodate several hundred people. Since couples have to preregister (and take pre-marriage classes), the municipalities know how many places to set.
An area is then chosen and decorated in wedding style with tables, archways and wedding backdrops. Free champagne is provided for guests and immediate family members and each couple, through one large justice of the peace ceremony, is legally married.
Who participates in these collective weddings, you may wonder? Hundreds of people. In my town, for example, 265 couples married this Valentine’s Day with the youngest being 18 and the eldest, 81 who decided after 45 years, it was time to legally marry his 70-year-old bride.
While some (or many, many) people may not find this method satisfactory, it does tell one tale. That those getting married this way do it for love and not the party.
Other Mexican holidays you may be interested in learning about: