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The Legacy of Santa Claus and His Mariachi Family

Thursday, January 16, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephen Stuempfle
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The Legacy of Santa Claus and His Mariachi Family
By Daniel Sheehy
Folklife, December 23, 2019

I met Santa Claus (the real one!) late one Sunday night in 1974 in La Hacienda Mexican nightclub in downtown Los Angeles. He was a violinist in a mariachi group, and he played for the clubgoers during the dance band’s breaks.

Of course, it wasn’t his real name. In the mariachi world, many musicians are known only by their nickname (apodo, in Spanish), and if you ask for them by their birth names, people won’t know who you are talking about. Santa Claus was recommended to me by a mutual friend who knew I was looking for musicians who were more than musicians, who were the deepest, most complete representatives of the mariachi as a way of life, a culture.

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Folklife is the digital magazine of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

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