Located on the corner of Congreso de la Union and Avenida Morelos, just south-east of the historic centre of the city, Mercado Jamaica is one of Mexico City’s traditional public markets where various vendors sell their wares in an established location. The market was inaugurated in the 1950s as part of efforts to modernise the markets in the area.
Although it is one of the main markets for groceries, produce and meat, it is best known for its flowers and ornamental plants. There are 1,150 stands dedicated to selling cut flowers, flower arrangements, ornamental plants and accessories such as flowerpots. The market offers about 5,000 types of flowers and plants, mostly foreign, but there is a number of native Mexican species available, including some gathered directly from the wild.
The market sells a number of other products besides plants and flowers. There are 312 stands dedicated to other merchandise such as meat, groceries and other items. Most of the meat sold is common, but unusual animals such as frogs and chichicuilotes (a type of native bird) can be found as well.
One section sells live animals, both as pets and certain farm animals such as chicks and full grown hens and roosters. The market is also one of the major sellers of Christmas trees in the city. Most of the species sold are not native to Mexico and many are imported as they are considered to have better foliage and are usually cheaper.
There is a section dedicated to piñatas, most made with cardboard and covered in crêpe paper, although more traditional ones with a clay pot in the centre can still be found. Designs range from traditional stars to those based on recent figures from popular movies and television shows.
The busiest time of year for this section of the market is December, before Christmas, when a tradition called “Las Posadas” often involves breaking one or more piñatas. While traditional to that season, the breaking of piñatas is no longer confined to December and can be found at various types of celebrations year round, which helps to support this section’s permanent presence.
About 25.5% of stands sell cut flowers, 26% sell flower arrangements, 4.3% sell flower pots and other accessories, 40.9% of the stalls are reserved for the trucks of flower producers and sellers and 3.2% sell ornamental plants, including those from the wild.
In the past, this area was on the eastern edge of the Aztec island city of Tenochtitlan, facing Lake Xochimilco. The area was filled with artificial islands called “chinampas” for farming and docks to service the thousands of canoes and barges that passed through here on their way to city markets.