Tuesday, December 07, 2010
In Mexico, many festivities are celebrated outdoors because the weather is warmer. Greetings are shared to remember El Nino Dios ( the Christ Child).
Starting December 16 and running nine evenings, candlelight processions or "wanderings" are held in communities. Las Pasadas are symbolic of the Holy Family trying to find lodging when there was no room in town. A different home is chosen each night to host the event. People knock on two 'wrong' doors and the third home allows them inside.
Plays called Pastorelas tell the story of the shepherds looking for the infant and following the angel message.
For 2 weeks carols or haciendo ramas are sung. These are lively and entertaining.
Stalls are set up in town. Traditionally these sell the food and articles needed to set up your nativity set. A stall is known as a puesto and the manger scene is called el Nacimiento. Each year a new figure can be bought and added to the nativity scene at your house!
If a family is Catholic, a mass on Christmas Eve (misa de gallo) is attended and then a meal at home is enjoyed. That same night, the gifts are opened, games are played and sparklers are lit to the delight of the little ones. If you have a pinata to hit with a stick, expect to find peanuts, oranges and tangerines inside. Hard candy is popular also.
Christmas Day is for relaxing and being with family. Leftovers are eaten.
January 6th is El Dia de Reyes where the day of the Kings or magi are celebrated. Children will put their shoes near the window for a treat to be hidden inside. Some family give new shoes on January 6. Hot chocolate is shared and a large bread wreath with dried fruit and sprinkled sugar is eaten. (This symbolizes Christ as the Bread of Life)
Watch out-- there is a hidden ceramic baby hidden in the loaf. The person who receives the slice of bread wreath containing the babe is the godparent of Baby Jesus and is expected to make up a christening gown (ropon) for the next celebration... on February 2.
Known as a time of purification, this tradition is named El Dia de la Candelaria. Translated as the Day of Light or the Day of the Candle. Jesus is known as the light coming into the world. The nativity set is put away on February 2nd.
I have a friend from Mexico. She never told me how many days and nights the Mexican festivities can entail. Imagine starting December 16 and partying nine nights in a row and finishing up on February 2nd?
Monday, December 06, 2010
In many regions of the world, today is a happy celebration for children. In Europe especially, the young have polished their shoes, made their room tidy and helped out their parents because they want to be "good".
You see, the good and well behaved kiddies expect to find chocolates, fruit or nuts in their shoes today. The "bad" and misbehaving children will find coal, twigs or a potato in their footwear. (Oh, the embarrassment!)
I have a lifelong buddy who has German parents. I got to learn her family's traditions and see Christmas in another light. I just sent her an email to wish her a happy St. Nicholas Day. Unfortunately, her daughter is away at university, so my buddy can't act as the saint. Nor will my friend find a chocolate in her shoe, as her parents live in another town.
The email was the best I could do from 4,000 kilometers away. Believe me, if anyone deserved a chocolate or a shoe full of delicious nuts... it would be my highschool buddy, Doris!
Do you know anyone who celebrates St. Nicholas Day?
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
I f you are not familiar with the band, "The Arrogant Worms" you may be in for a treat. I happen to like their irreverant humour...
Here's one to motivate the laziest cat...
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Last night, 4 sets of neighbours got together for a pizza party. I have looked forward to this get together for a full week. . . and it was better than I had hoped.
We don't dress up. We just enjoy company of good folks that live very close to one another. Usually we keep up-to-date on all the health issues that 8 people live with: diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, high cholesterol... you get the picture.
Last night our host would normally be labelled as the sickest member among us. That friend is named Merl and he is not a healthy 80-yea- old. Last night he shared news that his newest doctor proclaimed him CURED!
There was a lot of hugging going on in Merl's livingroom.
Since August, this man has been admitted to hospital no less than 5 times. The number of pills that he has been prescribed is phenomenal. (High cholesterol, water retention, poor circulation, irregular heartbeat, shallow breathing and acid reflux are just the beginning of the list of afflictions.) It turns out that Merl has not been taking his pills. His wife admitted that she can't find them anywhere in the house.
So even though "Mr. Merl" is picking and choosing what chemicals he will allow into his body, yesterday's doctor visit surprisingly gave him a clean bill of health. So we celebrated.
The other side to this story is that Merl's wife has been spiralling lower and lower into depression as she faces how very sick her hubby has been. As neighbours, we imagined losing her first as she seemed to be unable to care for herself or for Merl.
I can't help thinking that this doctor visit was arranged to help raise a woman from depression and give her hope, and secondly, to tell a man who won't take his meds that 'obviously he is cured' (sarcastically) because he is doing so well without pills.
A healing miracle or a dismissal by a health care professional??? What do you think?
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