Aztec Dance celebration.

Mission-based Aztec Dance Group Mixcoatl Anahuac will host  a day-long celebration on Saturday with some 100 dancers from across the state. The annual event, held in honor of El Niño Limosnerito, or the Child Jesus, holds extra significance this year, as it marks the group’s 25th anniversary.

Flyer of this years’ ceremony of El Niño Limosnerito.

The celebration, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 10 a.m. and will include an opening ceremony, dance performances from participating groups, a dinner, and an open dance for all attendees. 

The event will take place at the Mission Food Hub, located at 701 Alabama St. The Mission Food Hub, the Latino Task Force, and Carnaval San Francisco all played a role in organizing the event.

Some 20 different groups of Aztec dancers from the Bay Area, Southern California and Nevada, including more than 100 dancers, will come together on the dance floor and be accompanied by traditional drums. 

“Dance brings together very different people and unifies them, and this event is a perfect opportunity to have contact with the indigenous culture,” said Ricardo Peña, one of the organizers of the event, and a co-owner of Mixcoatl on 24th Street.

Peña is one of the original creators of the Mission dance group. Originally from Toluca, Mexico, Peña emigrated to the United States when he was 18. “Having this group is a way of creating community here,” he says. 

Most of the participants are Mexican, but it is open to everyone. “We want people to get involved and feel proud of their roots,” Peña says.

El Niño Limosnerito, also known as the Child Jesus, is celebrated annually in Aztec culture on Epiphany, Jan. 6 this year. The festivity includes leaving toys, candy, and other sweets as offerings to the child. Additionally, Aztec Dance groups gather to perform their traditional dances as a tribute to the Child Jesus. It is a way to honor the child and express their gratitude. 

The Mixcoatl Anahuac group has between 15 and 20 active members, but had as many as  30. The group practices every Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Mission Cultural Center on Mission Street.

“The group is a reflection of the neighborhood, very diverse and with people from all origins,” Peña says including  Filipino Americans, Anglo-Saxons, and people of all origins.

The participants range in age from 6 to 55. The classes are free and open to the public.

Aztec dance celebration in San Francisco.

In Mexico, the El Niño Limosnerito ceremony traditionally lasts for more than 12 hours, beginning at 5 a.m. with the sunrise and continuing until 12 a.m. “Here, we have to adapt in accordance with the city rules. But in our country, rules are established that when a traditional festivity takes place, traditional norms prevail,” Peña explains. 

The event flyer contains the message “Mexica Tiahui, Tlazo kamati,” which translates as “Mexican (Indigenous) Moving/Go Forward!”

Peña encourages everyone to join the celebration. “You don’t need to know how to dance,” says Peña. “You just need to be willing to experience the dance, whether that’s only watching or also participating.”

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Contributor, Marta Campabadal, originally hails from Barcelona. She came to the United States on a Fulbright scholarship to obtain her Master's degree at Columbia University. Following her studies, she worked for the data-driven newswire, Stacker. She is fond of big cities and the diversity they attract. San Francisco and the Mission District in particular have captured her heart, particularly because she can speak Spanish everywhere.

Follow her on Twitter @MartaCampabadal

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3 Comments

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  1. Hello,
    Thank you for this great article, however, please remember to post what day, date and time this will be happening. Several times if you can. The poster does not have that as well.
    What date is this happening?

    Thank you very much.

    Cristina