Travel: Combate de Las Flores in Leon, Guanajuato

Years ago, I had been sent to visit Guanajuato, a state in Mexico some hours from the capital. It was the eve of Independence Day (September 16; and not Cinco de Mayo, as everyone in the States thinks it is) and I had gotten a room overlooking the main plaza where I got front row seats to the fireworks.

That next morning, my travel companions and I saw a lot of people in the plaza so we went to join in to see what was going on.

That’s where I found out about the Combate de las Flores (the Combat of Flowers). Everyone I had asked who was a native of the city did not have a clear idea of how this tradition came about. It seems to be a harkening back to the days of old, when single ladies who were not allowed out without a chaperone, were taken to the plaza’s kiosk to walk around. Eligible males would also walk around the kiosk but in the other direction so should you see a handsome stranger that you are interested in and make eye contact, the two may step out of the walk and sit by the kiosk for a chat.

Here, the majority of the people were in their late teens or 20s. The rule is you buy a rose and you walk around the plaza. If you see someone you like, you ask them for their rose. If they refuse, you keep walking. If they agree, they have to give you a kiss. There was little pecks on the mouth to full-on make out sessions. There was one girl who had an armload of roses from all her conquests.

I was looking at a lot of jail bait so I had no intention buying anything that had roots.

I, however, was getting eyed without an iota of discrimination.

So if you happen to be in Mexico and near Leon, take a turn around the park.

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