Bienvenidos! Welcome!

Thanks for visiting Daughter of Corn. I hope you enjoy the essays and thoughts about the journeys of a writer in San Miguel....who ends up in Iowa City!

Friday, December 10, 2010

La navidad y San Miguel

The festivities in San Miguel during la Navidad are truly spectacular, though some traditions are fading fast.  Once I rented a room in a very humble neighborhood near the San Juan de Dios market. I loved going to the open stalls set up just for the season. Greenery and colored paper balls, as well as sparkling cardboard angels and stars--but most of all, the brightly painted nacimientos made from clay prove to be popular buys for the season.  I have purchased many a miniature shepherd and diablo, as well as the proverbial hermitano, or hermit, who stands firmly in the nativity scene representing the search for wisdom.   Frequently accompanied by a round cave situated behind him, the hermit can retreat from the sly, red devil found perching on the cave's rooftop.

To make my solitary Christmas more comforting, I created a nacimiento by placing the folkloric ceramic figures on a small table in my tiny room.  I hung a large, oval green and red paper ornament from the top of the entryway and draped strings of green and fushia foil garlands around the room. No baby Jesus yet, as el Nino Dios only appears in the Mexican nativity scene on la Noche Buena, or the night he is born, at midnite.

One evening as I arrived home a small group of peregrinos or pilgrims walked by my door, singing the posada songs, and carrying flat cardboard pieces with the holy family glued on top.  Younger children waved sparklers in the air, and one of them quickly handed me a sparkler with a grin.  Entranced by the sincerity of the procesion, as well as the devotion it represented, I smiled back, wishing I knew the words to the traditional songs.  Somewhere along the path the group would knock on a door and enter into a celebracion of  warm tamarind and guayaba ponche and pinatas filled with candies, oranges and peanuts. Contrast this image with my own culture's frenetic campaign to buy at el mall and it isn't surprising to discover that many Mexicans are uninspired by an American Christmas.

What I primarily noticed that December was the presence of human beings on the streets--for there were groups in el jardin selling tickets for Christmas events, other more lavish procesiones walking uphill, and pastorelas sprinkled at schools and traditional churches.  Once, in the distant past, I came upon a pastorela or retelling of the Christmas story at the Oratorio church near the main market. Shepherds arguing, little diabolitos attempting to sabotage the Christmas tale and St. Michael swooping down to save the day comprised a compelling performance.  So much life, so much vibrancy for a season brimming with glittering events for family as well as strangers weave a true spiritual celebration in the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende.

No comments:

Post a Comment