Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.




While others awaited the Super Bowl kickoff, a team of students on the Jupiter campus spent Super Bowl morning playing soccer and shouting about their opponents in Spanish.

The game kicked off this year’s Fiesta Maya, a daylong festival held Feb. 7 that honors
traditional Mayan culture. The event — which featured a procession, food, music and dance — was coordinated by Honors College students and Jupiter’s Mayan immigrant community.

“Fiesta Maya is for them like recreating an identity within this foreign land and coming together and merging their identities,” explained Kristina Klaas, president of Corn Maya Club, the student organization that sponsored the event. “I just think it’s really interesting to see everyone come together.”

Jupiter’s Mayan community comprises immigrants mainly from the Guatemalan Highlands, as well as southern Mexico, according to Timothy J. Steigenga, an Honors College political science professor.

Fiesta Maya is based on a two-week-long celebration of a religious figure known as the Virgin of Candelaria, which is one of the most important cultural festivals held in the Guatemalan Highlands. It is also celebrated in several other Latin American countries, ranging from Venezuela to Uruguay, Steigenga explained.

The Fiesta Maya soccer game pitted a team of students, employees and alumni from the Jupiter campus against a team chosen from the Jupiter community. This year’s local team comprised mostly Guatemalan and Haitian players, according to Tara Boulos, vice president of Corn Maya Club.

“It gets really intense,” she said of the match.

Although Fiesta Maya has been celebrated for nine years now, the Jupiter campus team has never won a Fiesta Maya soccer match, explained Michael Webster-Gardiner, the captain of this year’s Jupiter campus team.

“We tried to get the best team we had, and we would’ve won, but that was their best team they’ve ever had out there,” said Webster-Gardiner of their competition this year.

“We played our hearts out; there wasn’t really much more we could do.”

Following the soccer game, members of the Mayan community led a traditional parade-like procession through part of the Jupiter campus. Costumed dancers performed the Dance of the Deer, which Steigenga described as a representation of the hunt for deer. Following them, musicians played a marimba — a large xylophone-like instrument — while
women carried flowers and an image of the Virgin of Candelaria.

In the Guatemalan Highlands, flowers are found only high in the mountains, said Steigenga. So, when the virgin is celebrated there, flowers are the object of a ritual trek to bring them back to adorn procession participants with.

After the procession in Jupiter, the crowd spent the rest of the afternoon on the lawn behind the library, enjoying traditional food, marimba music and dance.

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