Veracruz, officially known as Heroica Veracruz, is a major port city and municipality on the Gulf of Mexico in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The city is located in the central part of the state. Veracruz is Mexico’s oldest, largest, and historically most significant port since European colonization. When Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico in 1519, he founded a city here, which he named Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz, referring to the area’s gold and dedicated to the "True Cross", because he landed on the Christian holy day of Good Friday, the day of the Crucifixion. It was the first Spanish settlement on the mainland of the Americas and the first to receive a coat-of-arms. During the colonial period, this city had the largest mercantile class and was at times wealthier than the capital of Mexico City. Its wealth attracted the raids of pirates, against which fortifications such as Fort San Juan de Ulúa were built. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Veracruz was invaded on different occasions by France and the United States; the last invasion occurred in 1914. For much of the 20th century, the production of petroleum was most important for the state's economy but, in the latter 20th century and into the 21st, the port has re-emerged as the main economic engine. It has become the principal port for most of Mexico’s imports and exports, especially for the automotive industry. Veracruz has a blend of cultures, mostly indigenous, ethnic Spanish and Afro-Cuban. The influence of these three is best seen in the food and music of the area, which has strong Spanish, Caribbean and African influences.
Jarabe Tapatío, or the Mexican hat dance, is the best known of a variety of Mexican folk dance called the jarabe. Originally banned by colonial authorities in the 19th century due to its sexual nature and general challenge to Spanish rule, it has since become symbolic of Mexico both in the country and abroad. The dance represents the courtship of a man and woman, with the woman first rejecting the man’s advances than accepting them. It has a definite sexual component in metaphor, which was the original reason for the disapproval for authorities. As the dance has lost its controversial status and gained status as representative of Mexico, the dancers have come to wear garb that is also highly representative of Mexican women and men. For women, the most traditional outfit is called the “China Poblana.” The blouse and skirt combination is named after a woman from India who came to Mexico on the Manila Galleon to work as a servant in the early 19th century. Her Asian dress was copied and then adapted in the State of Puebla, with the skirt now heavily embroidered and otherwise decorated with patriotic images. The traditional outfit for men is that of the charro, generally heavily decorated in silver trim. The music played to accompany the dance was written to be danced to and its played either by mariachi bands or by bands playing only string instruments such as various types of guitars, harps and violin.
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