Hatillo, a major agricultural area that produces approximately one-third of the milk consumed in Puerto Rico, is best known for the annual Festival de las Máscaras Festival of Masks), which has been held annually on December 28, since 1823, when the town was founded.
Tradition came with settlers from the Canary Islands. The meaning of this tradition is the Holy Innocents, or Santos Inocentes: the first martyrs of Christian faith from Matthew, a story in which small children were killed by King Herod in an unsuccessful attempt to kill Jesus. Brightly dressed men in masks, representing King Herod’s soldiers, run through the streets in a vain attempt to find the Baby Jesus.
It is a very special day with lots of fun and a large meeting of masqueraders of all ages, who wear costumes according to tradition, typically covered from head to toe, and parade through their town and nearby towns all day, telling jokes and having fun, followed by a large crowd in a celebrated procession through the town and neighboring towns, and ending at the Hatillo town center. The parade includes modern floats where townspeople show their creativity in decorating them according to specific themes. Events also include live music concerts and competitions.
Photo by Hector Melendez from http://www.flickr.com/photos/hmelendez/2743070482/