It’s Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday, or there are many other names for this day.
In one community in Mexico, it’s the time of year for a very explosive tradition: the Exploding Hammer Festival.
The town is called San Juan de la Vega, in central Mexico.
Each year, usually in February, there’s a multi-day festival there to celebrate the town’s namesake and its patron saint, San Juantito.
He became known as the “Robin Hood of Mexico” for taking gold from the wealthy and giving it to the poor.
Or he stole back gold that bandits had swiped, or he was wealthy and took on other rich people on behalf of the poor.
The story is centuries old and so there are multiple versions.
But each version of the story involves some kind of battle, which is where the exploding hammers come in.
The tradition is for people in town to make homemade explosives or firecrackers, strap them to the end of sledgehammers and slam them into stuff, be it rocks, rails, metal, or even the road.
As you might guess, this is not the safest thing in the world to do.
In a typical year at least a few people get hurt.
Flying shrapnel will do that, though having all that residue from the explosives flying around in the air afterward may not be good for you either.
Every article I found on this festival said if you go, wear goggles, protective clothing and probably some kind of face covering so you don’t inhale the smoke.
There have been endless attempts to shut this festival down, but it ends up happening year after year anyway.
Some people even say they like that it’s loud and scary and dangerous, either because they like the tradition, or they like blowing stuff up, or maybe if they’re NOT doing something scary or dangerous, is it really much of a sacrifice or tribute to the patron saint?
Anyway, if you go, don’t blame whatever happens on us.
The community of Liberal, Kansas calls itself the “Pancake Hub of the Universe.”
And Pancake Tuesday is when they demonstrate this, with a Pancake Day race.
The Kansans flip pancakes along a 415 foot course, and they compete with pancake foot racers in the English town of Olney.
Hopefully no one has thought of combining the exploding hammers with the pancake race.
The explosive festival of San Juan de la Vega (La Silla Rota Guanajuato)
Liberal pancake race (Kansas Historical Society)