One day a year, the vendors at Mexico City’s Mercado de la Merced throw a crazy, wild party to honor the Virgin of Mercy, known in Spanish as the Virgen de la Merced.
Her saint’s day is Sept. 24. On that day and a few days after, the vendors host musical groups inside the market and mount large, gorgeous altars dripping with flowers. The day also coincides with the market’s anniversary, the 55th this year.
I was lucky enough to visit the market with a group of photographers, part of an expedition organized by Luisa Cortés, a neighborhood resident. Cortés said the vendors save money throughout the year to pay for the altars and live music, which can cost as much as $300,00 pesos (roughly $30,000 USD) per aisle inside the market.
The altars lent an eerie beauty to what’s usually one of the most chaotic places in the city. Mostly the vibe was festive and fun. Vendors dished out enchiladas de mole and carnitas, and bands played ballads, cumbia, rancheras.
It was a spectacular day to be there. If you’re in the city on the same day next year, I highly recommend going.
Some photos of the day:
Racheras and squash!
A prayer to the Virgen de la Merced, asking for her to bless the market