Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's flag day.....for real, look it up

This link was copied from the Mazatlan Messenger, it is a story of how my people ended up in Mexico. Both my parents were born in Chihuahua, my mother came to Canada with her whole family as a young child but my father didn't come to Canada until he was a young man. He came all alone, with only the shirt on his back, 5 pesos in his pocket (or something like that) and a pair of well worn cowboy boots on his feet.....you know how that story goes don't you. I've been to Chihuahua a few times as I still have many relatives there, each time I go I can feel that my roots are there and there is always a slight pull when I leave. I am very grateful that   I am able to go back and forth between my homeland and my rootland (a new word I just invented) so freely.  Both flags are near and dear to me. 

The Mennonites of Mexico

Mennonites make 80% of the region's Chihuahua cheese.
The Mennonites, like many people, have persecution as a pivotal part of their history. They began as a part of the Christian Church in the 16th century known as “Anabapist.” This name came from the fact they rebaptized their adult believers. The Mennonites took their name from Menno Simons, a Dutch priest who converted to the Anabaptist faith and helped lead it to prominence in Holland by the mid-16th century. In addition to rebaptizism, the Mennonites refuse to take oaths or go to war, and believe in the separation of church and state. They are one of the peace churches, which hold to a doctrine of non-violence and pacifism.
The first Mennonites came mainly from Swiss and German roots, with many of the important martyrs of the early church coming from the area around Zurich. To escape persecution, many Mennonites fled Western Europe for the more accommodating religious climate of the Americas. During the American War of Independence many Mennonites living in Pennsylvania felt a threat to their pacifistic beliefs and migrated to Canada.
Although most Mennonites eschew modern technology, some will utilize modern farm machines.
The Mennonites diligently applied their traditional agricultural ways and faith-based social structure and thrived once again. But in 1890 the Manitoba Municipal Act of 1880 established secular local governments. And the Manitoba Schools Act in 1890 required English as the sole language of instruction in schools as well as a secular curriculum. Their subsequent legal battles with the government cost them large sums of money, and in some cases Mennonites were imprisoned for refusing to send their children to public schools.
Rejecting any compromise Old Colony Mennonites began to seek another promised land. In 1921 six Mennonites were chosen to seek out a new land for settlement in Latin America and they believed Mexico, despite its recent Revolution, would offer them a home.
In 1922 Mexican President Álvaro Obregón invited Mennonites to settle in the northern regions of the country. He offered them cheap land and freedom from taxation for 100 years, as long as they agreed to supply cheese for northern Mexico. The Mennonites were also given freedom to organize their own educational system and freedom from military service. A total of 20,000 Mennonites arrived in 1922 in a mass migration beginning in March 1922. Over a four year period a total of 36 trains of 25-45 cars made the journey from Canada to Mexico carrying the settlers and their farm equipment. A total of 200,000 acres was obtained by the church.
The cheese the Mennonites were obliged to produce was originally known as queso menonita, but currently called queso chihuahua. This pale yellow cheese, now duplicated in other parts of Mexico in versions ranging from mild to sharp, is still considered a specialty of the region, where the best Chihuahua cheese is found.
Today in Chihuahua, Mennonites coexist, learning Spanish and English, as well as Low German, and living side by side with Tarahumara Indians in the hill country of the state. The lifestyle of Mexico’s Mennonites has not changed drastically since their initial migration, and continues to be centered on the fields, orchards and kitchen, making it food-centered, in both domestic and commercial terms. Each family grows its own vegetables. There are also family orchards, with cherries, pears, peaches, and the famous Chihuahua apples, a specialty of the Mennonites. Some continue to use plow horses to work the fields, although the modern Mennonites, who live in the same communities as the Old Colony groups, now use tractors. A number of these families also choose to use electricity, replacing part of the canning chores with freezing.
About 50,000 Mennonites reside near the city of Cuauhtémoc in Chihuahua. In Durango, there are 32 Mennonite communities. Mennonites in Durango number more than 7,000 most of them living in Nuevo Ideal. The total Mennonite population in Mexico is estimated to be about 80,000.
Authorities estimate Mennonite farmers account for at least 60% of Chihuahua’s agricultural produce, supplying staples such as corn and beans. Nicknamed “vendequesos” or “cheese-sellers,” Mennonites make 80% of the region’s cheese and some 70% of its dairy produce.


Brenda said...

Ok I am obviously missing something here on this post.
Where is it Flag Day today?
According to Wikipedia, Canada Flag Day is Feb. 15 th and Mexican Flag Day is Feb. 24 th (Dia de la Bandera)

We have some Mennonite people here around Guaymas,they come to town to shop and sell cheese, etc.. Not sure if they are from Chihuahua or if they live closer. The cheese is good. We also get some of the apples from Chihuahua in season.

Oh the lovely roses I love them and miss seeing them. They smell so lovely.

Have a great evening.

Contessa said...

I had no idea that your heritage was Mexican. How wonderful. Chihuahua queso is our most favorite and I still have a huge block of it here in out fridge. I always bring back a large amount. Thanks for sharing the info on the history of the Mennonites in Mexico. I had always wondered on how they became part of the Mexican history. I must check out my Maz links more often. Time is moving too quickly. Actually in a way that is good, time to head south soon.

Mary Klassen said...

Brenda, on my calender it says 'flag day" on June 14th, I am not sure if it is a Canadian or American calender as it seems to have all holidays on it. i goggled it as well and you are right. Canadian flag is Feb 15....who knows what kind of Calender I have.

Brenda said...

OK you got me curious so I checked Wikipedia and apparently it is/ was American Flag Day on the 14 th of June.
This is part of what Wiki says:

In the United States Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened that day by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777.[1]

So I learned something, thanks.