Many of you reading this will think that I am fabricating today’s post. An overactive imagination maybe. Too many tongue tacos perhaps.
Today is Día de la Candelaria, or Candlemas in English, is a weird mixture of virgin appearances, tamale eating, playing with ceramic dolls and a reference to Jesus’ presentation in the Temple in Luke 2:22-29. You can check out a HuffPost article about it HERE.
Today, many Mexican Roman Catholics take their treasured family Jesus doll to church to be blessed by the priest. For the last week or so, devote Catholics have been repairing any fractures their Jesus dolls may have, and in some cases buying ornate clothing for “him” so that their doll is appropriately attired. There is a little roadside shop near where we live with a sign that says “Se Arreglan Niños Dioses.” We fix your God Child. I’m not making this up.
Way back in the early 15th century (that’s early 1400s, before Columbus sailed the ocean blue), the Virgin Mary appeared in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain. Of course, Mary being such a common, boring name, she was given another, “Candelaria.” So many Virgins, so many names. This appearance continues to be celebrated in Spain and throughout the Americas.
The much more agreeable aspect to today is that in Mexico, it is traditionally the day when people eat tamales. The person who found a little white plastic baby in their Christmas rosca, a tasty sweetbread, must buy the tamales.
February 2 also corresponds with a sacred date of polytheistic Aztec worship, dating back to pre-Hispanic Mexico, but with a day already as convoluted as today, let’s not confuse the issue further. Never mind that today is Groundhog Day as well. Hmm…
On a serious note, we still have old-school idolatry evidenced blatantly and proudly. After being blessed by the priest, the Niño Dios, or God Child, is returned to the family alter, given a special place in a corner of the house.
Please don’t think that Mexican Catholicism is evangelical Christianity. If you remember nothing else from this bizarre post, remember that.
Below…just a few of the many people we saw today carrying their baby Jesus dolls. Thanks, Jessica, for the photo.