Honoring Our Connection to Land & Water on San Isidro Day

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By Dabi F. García, NMAA Promotora Cultural

 El santo, el ángel y la acequia by Anita Rodríguez of Taos
El santo, el ángel y la acequia by Anita Rodríguez of Taos



“San Isidro Labrador

Patrón de los labradores,

Liberta nuestro sembrado 

De langostas y temblores” -Alabanza de San Isidro




Every year on the week around May 15th, land-based communities in Mexico and the US Southwest honor Día de San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of agriculture, workers and acequias.  In New Mexico San Isidro, as well as his counterpart Santa Inez del Campo, are traditionally carried in procession along Acequia banks and through farm fields to pray for a fruitful growing season. 

As in many communities in the Americas during the period of Spanish colonization and missionization, many of these Christian observances were imposed by the church to fall on significant days that coincided with Indigenous agricultural calendars. In central Mexico, Tlalok the water and fertility deity of rain and lightning was syncretized with San Isidro Labrador. During the colonial period images of San Isidro were brought to New Mexico. Similarly, beliefs in the Earth Mother, Tonanzin, became hybridized with the image of the Virgen de Guadalupe. Many of these both pre-Hispanic as well as Christian rituals focus our attention on the natural cycles of the Earth and its movements.

In the devotions to San Isidro, we express our hopes for good harvests, plentiful gentile rains, salvation from grasshoppers and hailstorms, as well as prayer for amicable relations between neighbors. In many communities Sacando al Santo or taking the images of the saints in procession, accompanied sometimes by ritual dances and water blessings, give the community time to gather together and put their faith into action giving thanks to God, and Mother Earth.

In the month of May various acequia communities across New Mexico celebrate Día de San Isidro – some on May 15th, and others on the weekend closest to the actual day.  Most often it takes place in areas where there is a church dedicated to the Saint, however, communities have revived Sacando al Santo around community celebrations such as in San Fidel, Taos, Tesuque, Santa Fe, the Albuquerque South Valley and in Chimayo (follow NMAA for more information on some of this year’s events). 

Community members in Chimayo celebrate Día de San Isidro

This year, we encourage EVERYONE to find their own way to honor and celebrate San Isidro. Here are some ideas:

  • Organize with your acequia commission or regional association for a collective blessing and celebration.
  • Take your family to your acequia, river or headwaters site and offer songs and flores.
  • Create an image of San Isidro (such as a painting, santo, or decorated pala) and hold a procession in your own garden or farm field.

We encourage you to share images from your San Isidro celebration with the NMAA team at dabifgarcia@lasacequias.org.

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