Monday, December 10, 2007

Dia de la Candelaria, a Mexican Tradition

The Dia de la Candelaria (Day of the Candles) is a big feast in Mexico. It differs from the Candle Mass in the United States because during this Mass not only the Candles get blessed but also the Baby Jesus from the crib. In Mexico this has been celebrated since the Colonial times. This celebration also changes according to every ethnic group and region who gives the Celebration the characteristics proper to their culture.

Basically, the Dia de la Candelaria (Day of the Candles) the Godparents (in some places it will be the same people who sang the Baby Jesus to sleep on the night of the 24the, in some other places it will be the ones who found the Baby Jesus in the Rosca de Reyes or Kings cake) must go to the house of the “owners” of the Baby Jesus, to dress him and to take him to Church to be presented, just like Mary and Joseph did with Jesus, forty days after he was born. The first year the Baby Jesus is dressed in white to represent El nino de las Palomas (The Child of the Doves) or El Nino de las Azucenas (The Child of the White Lillies), which signifies the purity of his being.

The second year the Baby Jesus is dressed with a blue, yellow or pink gown and the last year He is dressed according to a devotion of the Godparents. It is very common to see the Baby Jesus dressed as El Santo Nino de Atocha (The Holy Child of Atocha) who wears a hat, a rod of wheat and a basket of flowers. The Holy child of Atocha appeared to the miners in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mex. Click here to read more. He can also be dressed as the Medico de los Enfermos (Doctor of the Sick) who wears a doctor’s coat, the Nino de la Candelaria (Child of the Candles) with a white gown, a candle in the left hand and flowers in the right.

He is also dressed as Saint Joseph, A Pope, Saint Francis, Saint Martin de Porres or the Sacred Heart. Every little gown is distinguished by the attributes that represent every Saint. Once dressed, the Baby Jesus is seated on a little wooden chair and then on a tray adorned with flowers. The first time the Baby is taken to the Temple, the Baby Jesus lays on the tray since He is still little and can not walk yet.

The Padrino (Godfather) also takes candles to Church. In some agricultural communities it id accustomed to take seeds to be blessed and to pray for a year of abundant harvest. The candles and some of the seeds are then used to adorn the Altar of the Sorrows.

At the end of the ceremony the Padrino (Godfather) returns the Baby Jesus to his “owners” who will light the candles. That afternoon, or evening, there will be a traditional “tamalada” (party in which tamales are served) in which tamales are served according to the custom of the place (there are many different styles of tamales in the country.) The tamales are accompanied by chocolate, atole de pinole (A drink made of corn meal and pinole, toasted corn flour, sometimes sweetened and mixed with cocoa, cinnamon or aniseed) or champurrado (a chocolaty flavored thick drink.)

The name of Candelaria or the Purification have their origin in the Feast that the Church celebrates the 40th day of the Birth of Jesus (February2) as a closing to the Christmas Season. With the Purification of the Mother and the presentation of the child at the temple, the ritual accompanying the birth of a child was finished in the Jewish law.

I have heard from many people that it is sacrilegious to dress Jesus as Saint Francis,etc. But I believe this is very incarnational. Jesus comes to us as one of us, we see Jesus as one of us. Therefore, we dress him as a carpenter, an indigenous person, a mariachi, a dancer....And the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us...

If there are theological inconsistencies that is because I only have one semester in theology...:)

Here are my own pictures : This year my Baby Jesus would have been dressed as the Sacred Heart, except in my head, I envisioned the Sacred Heart with a red cape. Well, this is my Sacred Heart/Christ the King without a crown. The first picture was from last year, Jesus as Juan Diego.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

its very good information a little wiered or i dont know it like this but yes good information. =]