For a long time, we thought it quite strange to see Christmas decorations hanging in and around homes far into the New Year. In error, we assumed this was a sign of laziness! One couldn’t get around to putting the baubles away and taking down the lights and tree?
How wrong we were. No matter how long we live in this foreign country, unlike the northern regions we have come from, we are aware there are many things yet to learn.
Christmas is celebrated in Mexico until Epiphany, which is the 6th of January. However, the birth of the Christ child is observed for much longer. Candelaria, also known as Candlemas is a mix of religion and paganism. Over the centuries, certain traditions are picked up, added to the original concept and developed in to a bona fide occasion.
Candelaria takes place on February 2nd. The lucky person, who bit into the plastic baby hidden in the Rosca de Reyes Cake on Epiphany, January 6, is now obliged to feed everyone on what normally we have thought of as Ground Hog Day. This is all in celebration of the Baby Jesus being presented at the temple. This has come to be known, among other things, but chiefly as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which also coincides with the forty days following the birth of a child, when women are in need of being churched or purified. This was a common practice in biblical times and being a Virgin not only didn’t get Mary off the hook, it completed the sacred notion of the process. Since the Christ Child was proclaimed The Light of the World, candles became very prominent for the observation of this holiday. It is not unusual to see processions of families to local churches, including Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral. Baskets and armloads of candles are brought to the churches to be blessed for use in the home throughout the coming year. This is also indicative of the halfway mark between the winter solstice and spring equinox, the fact that spring in on her way, bringing more light in the day.
Christmas decorations left in and outside the house are a form of observation, not idleness and besides, they are pretty and make everyone merrier. We see no reason they shouldn’t be given a slight dusting once in awhile and remain all year round. Indeed, quite often they are.
Que es cómo es.
Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article!
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