Tag Archives: El señor de Escapulitas

Christmas in México–Las Fiestas de Enero de Moroleón

Lest you think that the Christmas season was enough partying to last for several weeks, the festivities continue here with Las Fiestas de Enero (January Festivals) in Moroleón that begin on or about January 15 and continues until January 31.

This festival, or rather series of festivals, is in honor of a sacred statue that somewhat accidently found itself in Moroleón more than 200 years ago.

black jesus

In 1802, Father Alonso de Velasco was taking the image to the Bethlehem Temple in Guanajuato, but became sick and died before he could deliver the goods.  In gratitude for the care he received in Moroleón, Father Alonso donated the image of Cristo Negro (Black Christ) to the local church as he lay dying. This little black Jésus statue is said to be an exact replica of the statue that is venerated in the town Esquipulas, Guatemala.  The figure is known as El Señor de Esquipulas.

On January 15, 1806, Father Francisco de la Quinta Ana y Aguilar celebrated Misa Solemne en honor del Señor de Esquipulitas (solemn mass in honor of the image) in Moroleón.  This is the same day as it is celebrated in Guatemala.  A jaripeo (rodeo) and other festival events occurred after the mass. For this reason, the main iglesia (church) in the centro of Moroleón is known as El Señor de Esquipulitas, and the festival de Moroleón takes place in January.

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So the fun kicks off with a fabulous mass and an obra de teatro pública (public play downtown).  Then there are bandas (bands) and singers that perform until the wee hours of the morning every night for the next week or so.   I am not sure how the local population can party so hard.  El grupo Garcia (The Garcia group) brings their amusement park rides.  A traveling circus and artesenía vendors also set up.  There are so many ways to spend your money!

We always pass on the bandas.  They never start playing until after dark, and in January it’s still quite cold, so not a pleasant evening.  Of course, there is plenty of drinking, so I expect that keeps the party-goers from feeling the chill so much.  When we passed through the centro in the morning, there were piles of rubbish knee-high and the entire area smelled like one giant vat of beer.  Must have been some party.

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After the festivities in Moroleon.

There are also jaripeos (rodeos) at several Lienzo Charros (rodeo places) on various days during the festivities, but we tend to pass on those as well, pretty much for the same reason.  Most attendees are obnoxiously inebriated and not pleasant to be around.

We do, however, make a concerted effort to get to la feria (the fair) and the circus, even if it means eating beans for the next several weeks.  The last few years, the circus and the fair have set up in the same area and charged only one fee for both—a mere $35 pesos per person.   However, it didn’t work out so cheaply for us last time.

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Bumper cars are always a favorite!

Last year, my sister-in-law T treated us to tickets one night.  She and I had a blast reliving our youth and listening to Bon Jovi rock on!  Must have been quite a sight for the kiddies, watching two 40-something old ladies, screaming bloody Mary as the roller coaster dropped, but we had a nauseatingly good time.  We went on Friday but found that the circus had yet to set up and that there were only a handful of concession and artesenía stands.

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La feria in Moroleon. View from above!

Because of the lack of selection, we ended up eating at a little taco cart which offered 5 tacos for 25 pesos.  Unfortunately, I can say for a fact that my tacos were not bistek.  If I were to hazard a guess, I would say they were made of ground turkey, but they say that there are vendors that sell tacos made from ground dog meat and it’s entirely possible that that is what I ate.  My sister-in-law didn’t have the pseudo-bisteck but ordered chorizo and broke out in hives the next day.  You would think we would have learned…

So, since we couldn’t miss the circus, we went again on Sunday evening.  We paid 35 pesos for the entrance and hurried into the big top.  We had just finished watching the hula hoop girl and the trained llamas when the electricity went out. So much for that show.

We then went to look at the artesenía shops.  There were still quite a few open spaces, but there were some interesting things to see.  Unfortunately, the prices were too high for us to buy much of anything.  I noticed that many of the stalls had a little saint image with a lit candle, I expect to bless sales.  When my sister-in-law purchased a purse at one booth, the worker/owner crossed himself and offered up a prayer.  Seems the economic crisis is affecting everyone these days and when all else fails, turn to God.

After that, we went to the nearly empty food stands and were lured into one that offered 5 tacos for 35 pesos.  Here we experienced the old adage “A fool and his money are soon parted.”  My husband ordered the 5 chorizo tacos for 35 pesos but was served a plate full of tacos de bistek (beef tacos).  He sent it back.  The plate he was then given was so measly that he complained.  The server said that single layer mini-taco and a sprinkling of meat was because it was a special price.  My sister-in-law ordered 3 tacos de bisteck and 2 of chorizo.  She received my husband’s returned order with a sprinkle of chorizo on 2 of the tacos.  I had ordered a gringa made with beef instead of chorizo (apparently called a pirata), and it was huge but not very tasty.  The biggest surprise of all was the bill–$305 pesos.  WHAT??  Well, apparently my order cost $95 pesos, my son and T, each had a plate of $45 pesos, although my husband’s plate really did only cost $35 pesos.  Then we had ordered a can of soda each–$20 pesos each.  Well, as PT Barnum said, “A sucker is born every minute.”  That will teach us to eat concession ever again.

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Gorditas de nata and freshly toasted pumpkin seeds!

We did find a stand that sold toasted pumpkin seeds and gorditas de nata (bread made from the skimmed cream of cow’s milk) and enjoyed those tasty delights.  There was also a stand of pan de Acambaro (bread from Acambaro) which is tasty, but the pink dye used in the bread makes you pee pink for several days.  It’s really quite alarming the first time it happens.

The lines for the rides were 100 people long, weaving under yon and over dale.  Although we wanted to get the full value of our tickets, it wasn’t even tempting to get in the endless snake line.

We were determined to see the circus, so we lined up at 8:15 for the 9:00 show.  Just before we were allowed to go in, some hoity-toity chick line jumped and pulled her charro husband and child with her.  Then the suegra (mother-in-law) tried to squeeze her enormous bulk right in front of us as well.  Suddenly, the quiet, geeky guy that had been standing in front of us the whole time becomes Defender of the Space and shouts them out of line.  So we kept our place in line, but as we approached the doors, a mass of teenagers rushed the gate and pushed their way in front of us.  Talk about mostrando su cultura (demonstrating their culture).  I’m not sure what the big deal was since the big top was A BIG TOP and there were plenty of seats left open when the performance began, but, hey, what do I know.

the big top

The big top in Moroleon.

The circus was great!  I know that cruelty to animals can be an issue with such events, especially in a third-world country, but I always love to see the elephants with their big, baggy skin and wrinkles.  The clowns were funny, the jugglers were amazing, but miniature Shetland pony ridden by a baboon named Peña-Nieto was the best!  During the performance, I kept thinking what a shame it was that there weren’t more public events like those offered during this festival.  In this world of computer, television and movie screens, the emotional interaction between audience and performer has been lost completely.  There may be more quantity to our viewing pleasures, but there certainly is less depth.

Las Fiestas end on January 31 with a paseo (walk) with the statue El Señor de Esquipulitas through the downtown streets of Moroleón.  Many former residents make the peregrino (pilgrimage) to participate in this event, some even descalzo (barefoot) to atone for the sins they committed during the festivities.  Personally, I think it would be better to not commit the sin, thus not need to make atonement, but hey, what do I know?

So, on to the next great festival!

Interested in learning more about the history of Moroleon?

Check it out!

The History of Moroleon for Kids (Kindle) 

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Filed under Mexican Holidays, Religion

Parenting challenges–when someone dies

 

Welcome to the March 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Tough Conversations

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have spoken up about how they discuss complex topics with their children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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The majority of México is Catholic and nearly every house has a cross displayed.

We moved from a predominately Protestant but mostly religiously tolerant country to a nearly universally Catholic country when we moved from the United States to México. So the question became how to raise a religious but open-minded child in such a dogmatic and closed culture?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there is anything inherently wrong with Mexican Catholicism. After all, there are millions of devout devotees. But I wasn’t raised as a Mexican Catholic, and I did not wish to limit my son’s religious experience just because it’s the religion of the masses.

Although my husband was raised as a Mexican Catholic, our religious differences were not a point of contention between us, until we arrived in México with our 4-year-old child who had not been baptized as an infant. My mother-in-law started in immediately with how it was necessary for our son to be baptized in order to remove the devil’s horns from his head. (I admit to thinking WHATEVER to that idea.) My husband began to agree and make noises about how we should get him baptized. I told him that if he wanted to get our son baptized, although personally not seeing the necessity of that myself, he could go ahead and make the arrangements himself. As he never went to make the arrangements (being male) and my mother-in-law was unwilling to take on the expense (being cheap) this passed and our son remained unbaptized.

Then came the First Communion debate. Having not baptized our son, I did not see the necessity of having him prepared for his First Communion, but since his cousin, the same age was going through the ritual, it came up again. Again, I told my husband if he wanted to do this, he would need to make the arrangements, and again my mother-in-law was not interested enough in the plight of my son’s soul to make the financial sacrifices involved (clothes and a party mostly). Being a non-Catholic, I was automatically barred from involvement, unless of course I went and became Catholic. I wasn’t interested in doing that.

We attended mass on a few occasions, mostly for the experience of it over the last 6 years, but we never really had to confront the issue until last May when my mother-in-law was involved in an accident. Then, all of a sudden, religion became a big deal in our lives. My mother-in-law’s personal saint was El Niño de Atocha, and the family lit candles to that saint in supplication for her life. The saint was moved from her house to ours since my father-in-law was either in jail or at the hospital and couldn’t be there to keep a candle lit, so it became my responsibility. My father-in-law made a vow to walk descalzo (without shoes) to the Virgin of Guadalupe‘s shrine in Soledad if my mother-in-law recovered. My brother-in-law B became downright hostile towards me, the only non-Catholic in the bunch, although I tried to do what I could to help. When my mother-in-law died, she received the last rights and made her confession as any good Catholic would. My father-in-law asked me, not his religious son B if he needed to complete his pilgrimage since she died. I said no, I didn’t think so.

The altar of El señor de Escapulitas Catholic Church in Moroleón

The altar of El señor de Escapulitas Catholic Church in Moroleón

We had the funeral in the El Señor de Escapulitas with all the pomp and circumstance of a Catholic funeral. Then we began the novena(the 9-day prayer session for the soul of the departed to be released from purgatory). And then my son asked me about death.

So we talked about it, he and I. I asked him what he thought might happen when someone dies. He said he wasn’t sure. Being only 10, his death experiences involved mostly pets and livestock. So I explained that most people in México believed the soul lives on for a time in a place called purgatory, which wasn’t heaven or hell and that there would be rituals that were intended to help his grandmother’s soul move from purgatory towards one or the other. We talked about what heaven might be or what hell might be. Then I presented other ideas to him. I talked about the concept of reincarnation, the belief that the essence of a person is transferred to another living being, human or otherwise, in its quest for nirvana. He found that concept fascinating. I talked about that perhaps nothing at all happens at death, that perhaps we just cease to be and our body returns to the earth as part of a natural cycle of life. He was quiet for awhile after our discussion, thinking over things and finding his own way in the darkness that accompanies death.

That night, my son sat down with us for the first of the 9 prayer sessions of the novena. His cousins, who were baptized and confirmed, played outside as we prayed. He said to me after the prayers, “Mom, I don’t think that abuelita is in purgatory, but I prayed to remember her.” He endured the entire 9 days and subsequent mass, the only one of her many grandchildren who did so.

I’m not sure he’s made up his mind about death yet. I’m not sure I have either. We find comfort for our grief as we can. I’ve shared several of my favorite poems and scriptures about death and life with him. He’s listened and commented and gone on with his young life. I know perhaps it would be easier on him if I had made definite statements about what happens when someone dies instead of letting him grope about for his own answers. But finding your own way is the most precious part of living, and I would not deprive him that, even if he is still too young to understand.

 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon March 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • A Difficult Conversation — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is keeping her mouth shut about a difficult topic.
  • Discussing Sexuality and Objectification With Your Child — At Authentic Parenting, Laura is puzzled at how to discuss sexuality and objectification with her 4-year-old.
  • Tough Conversations — Kadiera at Our Little Acorn knows there are difficult topics to work through with her children in the future, but right now, every conversation is a challenge with a nonverbal child.
  • From blow jobs to boob jobs and lots of sex inbetweenMrs Green talks candidly about boob jobs and blow jobs…
  • When Together Doesn’t Work — Ashley at Domestic Chaos discusses the various conversations her family has had in the early stages of separation.
  • Talking To Children About Death — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is currently dealing with the terminal illness of her mother. In this post she shares how she’s explained it to her toddler, and some of the things she’s learned along the way.
  • Teaching 9-1-1 To Kids — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling talks about the importance of using practical, age-appropriate emergency scenarios as a springboard for 9-1-1 conversations.
  • Preschool Peer PressureLactating Girl struggles to explain to her preschooler why friends sometimes aren’t so friendly.
  • Frank Talk — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis unpacks a few conversations about sexuality that she’s had with her 2-year-old daughter, and her motivation for having so many frank discussions.
  • When simple becomes tough — A natural mum manages oppositional defiance in a toddler at Ursula Ciller’s Blog.
  • How Babies are Born: a conversation with my daughter — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger tries to expand her daughter’s horizons while treading lightly through the waters of pre-K social order.
  • Difficult Questions & Lies: 4 Reasons to Tell The Truth — Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection shares the potential impact that telling lies instead of taking the time to answer difficult questions can have on the parent-child relationship.
  • Parenting Challenges–when someone dies — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about talking to her child about death and the cultural challenges involved in living in a predominantly Catholic nation.
  • Daddy Died — Breaking the news to your children that their father passed away is tough. Erica at ChildOrganics shares her story.
  • Opennesssustainablemum prepares herself for the day when she has to tell her children that a close relative has died.
  • Embracing Individuality — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy addressed a difficult question in public with directness and honesty.
  • Making the scary or different okay — Although she tries to listen more than she talks about tough topics, Jessica Claire of Crunchy-Chewy Mama also values discussing them with her children to soften the blow they might cause when they hit closer to home.
  • Talking to My Child About Going Gluten Free — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama concluded that her family would benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet, she came up with a plan to persuade her gluten-loving son to find peace with the change. This is how they turned the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle into an adventure rather than a hardship.
  • Discussing Difficult Topics with Kids: What’s Worked for Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares parenting practices that enabled discussions of difficult topics with her (now-adult) children to be positive experiences.
  • Tough Conversations — Get some pointers from Jorje of Momma Jorje on important factors to keep in mind when broaching tough topics with kids.
  • Protect your kids from sneaky people — Lauren at Hobo Mama has cautioned her son against trusting people who’d want to hurt him — and hopes the lessons have sunk in.
  • Mommy, What Does the Bible Say? — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work works through how to answer a question from her 4-year-old that doesn’t have a simple answer.
  • When All You Want for Them is Love: Adoption, Abandonment, and Honoring the Truth — Melissa at White Noise talks about balancing truth and love when telling her son his adoption story.

 

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Filed under Carnival posts, Death and all its trappings, Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms