Festival de San Miguel Arcangel

Youth celebrate the festival de San Miguel outside the church where mass is held

The Dominican Republic is known for a lot of things; baseball players, merengue and bachata, tigueres (and I don’t mean the striped kind), sanky-pankys, but among others it’s known for its rich culture of syncretism. La festival de San Miguel Arcángel is one of many holidays celebrated in the DR which demonstrates the fusion of ‘lo católico’ with ‘lo africano’. Every 27 of september in the barrio San Miguel of the Zona Colonial, people gather from all over the city to attend mass in the Iglesia de San Miguel and pray to the arcángel warrior for his protection. The plaza outside the church fills with people, tobacco smoke, and street vendors; everyone dressed in reds, yellows, and greens (the colors of San Miguel). During the day there are a few different masses, and if you get lucky you might even see people dance the baile de palos, or get “tocado por el espíritu” (the best translation I came up with was “to be touched/entered by the holy ghost”).

Here’s a video I took of a woman who ‘le tocó el espíritu’:

I went to the festival with my good friend Ramon, who happens to be from the neighborhood, and who’s brother works in the church where the celebration was held. Ramon explained the festival to me, and got me a sneak peak of the fantastic set up one of the local families had prepared for the party later in the night.

Preparing for the party after the Festival de San Miguel

The long red and green bullet shaped things are actually cakes! Ramon tells me that although there is a religious current in the crowd, most people come to the festival for the party.

Baile de Palos

And a few more pictures I took at the festival:

A young boy smokes a cigar at the Festival de San Miguel

Someone hands their child to a woman who le ha tocado el espíritu

Ramons brother Ciprian trims flowers to put around the statue of San Miguel


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