Authentic Culture of San Antonio: Know What to Expect
Jun 04, 2021 16:30
With over 300 years of history, the city of San Antonio, Texas, managed to change, transform and shift under the hard-working hands of the people who occupied the region even before 1718. The Payaya’s, the Pastia Indians, and other neighboring tribes were the pre-colonial settlers that helped give life to the city we all know and love today.
Then came the missions with their significant importance in bridging the gap between two very different cultures, the Native-Americans, and the Spanish. What is truly inspiring about the city’s cultural growth, coexistence and fusion is that its troubled history and Texas change of ownership with everything it entails made the authentic culture of San Antonio become what it is today. Without that history, the city would be completely different. San Antonio doesn’t sweep its past under the rug but wears it proudly, celebrating it with every occasion possible.
What does San Antonio have to Celebrate?
That particular mix of different cultures that is not limited to Americans, Mexicans, Texians, or Tejanos, but includes a wide variety of European and Asian influences, gives the city of San Antonio TX the sense of uniqueness. Every culture has its own way of celebrating, its own food, art, and spirit, and you can see that through the countless San Antonio cultural events, museums, nightlife, and performing arts. With the Fiesta San Antonio postponed from its usual April date to June 17-27, we were thinking of shedding some light on the authentic culture of this historical city. Like this, if you decide to relocate to San Antonio you will know what to expect. Contact the local real estate agents in San Antonio TX if you want more information about the city’s real estate market.
All the following festivals are open to everyone that supports them and want to celebrate them. However, based on the types of cultural events and how approachable they are to the city’s residents and visitors, we have the following:
These are those events and festivals that unite the whole city. Regardless of their cultural background, every San Antonio resident will enjoy the following festivals.
This celebration began in 1891 with the Battle of Flowers. A group of women in decorated horse-drawn carriages paraded before the Alamo and “pelted each other with blossoms'' to commemorate the Battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. Today, while it is often compared to the Mardi Gras, Fiesta is a ten-day-long celebration taking place in multiple locations throughout the city. With numerous parades, Coronation Queen of the Order of the Alamo and its phony step sister Coronation, medals, beer, margaritas, confetti-filled cascarones, and signature treats, the Fiesta will give you a good cause for the morning hangover you’ll be sporting. All the funds collected from the Fiesta help different local scholarships and charities. While the Fiesta usually takes place in April, it was postponed to June 17 to 27 this year due to COVID.
Inspired by the illuminated nighttime art festivals of Europe, Luminaria was launched in 2008 by Phil Hardberger, a former San Antonio Mayor. During the month of November, the Hemisfair hosts this lively and colorful spectacle of light and art with light projections, film screenings, art installations, outstanding performances from artists of various genres and types of art. Both outdoors and indoors stages host avant-garde theater performances, live music, and other performing arts that ignite the senses and leave a lasting impression on a mesmerized audience.
These events are tailored for specific cultural backgrounds while welcoming everyone. Still, some might be more involved in the events, feel more at home and in their element than others.
Texan Folklife Festival
Since 1972, this Alamo City festival proudly celebrates the rich diversity and heritage of the Lone Star State. This kid-friendly festival brings together eclectic vendors, global street food, and several outdoor stages for hundreds of cultural groups to showcase their performing arts that preserve the old ways of Poland, Hawaii, Lebanon, China, and many other places. The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures hosts the Texan Folklife Festival. This museum celebrates the various identities and cultures of the people who brought their way of life and influenced the people of Texas.
On June 19, 1865, Union Army general Gordon Granger proclaimed freedom from slavery in Texas, and now, every year, San Antonio’s African Americans celebrate Juneteenth Emancipation Day on June 19th. The celebration site is the East Side of the city with family fun activities, plenty of food, and Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant.
From 2008, San Antonio held the San Japan pop culture convention, and now the three-day convention gathers over 20,000 every year. This is the largest event of this type that is hosted by the city. During August and September (Labor Day weekend), the convention offers concerts, cosplay shows, charity auctions, and many other games under the umbrella of the Japanese Art of Anime. It is housed at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio Grand Hyatt Hotel, and San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk.
Since 2009, the city of San Antonio, Texas, was the first US city to sponsor and sanction the Diwali celebration. The festival of light was brought to San Antonio through the Sister City Alliance with Chennai, India, and it takes place every year between mid-October and mid-November. As the most popular Indian festival, thousands of people come to showcase their Indian food, Indian dances, and even Zumba Bollywood.
Thousands of LGBT+ people celebrate in San Antonio the worldwide movement and philosophy that is Pride. Pride of one’s gender identity and sexual orientation is celebrated, as is the diversity and the community’s contribution in the San Antonio metropolitan area. The events and activities are meant to give more visibility to the LGBT+ community and inspire self-affirmation and pride for the individuals belonging to the community.
These events also welcome anyone interested in the theme, but these events are tailored for specific audiences.
San Antonio Film Festival
From 1994, San Antonio holds the annual San Antonio Film Festival designed as “an accessible and inclusive platform for cinema artists”. Every year, entry-level artists can submit their work, and prizes are given to the best and most illustrious films. Aside from the diverse program of independent feature films, shorts clips, and documentaries, the San Antonio Film Festival also focuses on workshops to educate young filmmakers on the ways of the trade. Between August 4 and 9, the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts hosts the festival.
Tejano Conjunto Festival
This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the Tejano Conjunto Festival, held at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. Music genres that are a living and breathing element of San Antonio’s culture are celebrated and preserved. A weekend packed with music, dancing, food, and beer takes place every May, which involves the whole community.
The multidisciplinary artist, writer, and composer Michael Mehl created the Fotoseptiembre to promote all types of photography. From alternative fashion to traditional reportage imagery, this veritable feast of photography is a fall favorite since 1995. Here you will find work from both local and national artists, but international photographers are also welcomed in the mix and mingle of photography meant to celebrate the beauty of all types. Through cafes, galleries, and non-traditional venues, anyone can venture off the beaten track and into the world behind the photographers’ lens in multiple locations throughout San Antonio.
Culture in San Antonio can be transmitted in any shape, size, and form, and it’s the obligation of the beholder to appreciate, embrace and acknowledge its influence. The way this city’s culture was influenced by the many different nationalities that were drawn to it can be seen on the street, in the corner coffee shops, and the way people smile at each other when they bypass the parks. Writing about the unbelievable food scene in San Antonio would be an overwhelming task and better suited for another article because culture is more than a type of food. It’s a way of life.
Celebrating the authenticity of San Antonio’s culture is a year-long celebration, so brace yourself if you are contemplating a potential move to the city. The beauty of San Antonio’s authentic culture comes from the way in which the people that moved there managed their differences without trying to overpower the others. They acknowledged that they could grow together far more than they would apart. That’s a lesson we should all remember.
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