Archive for December, 2009

December 19, 2009

Castillo Fireworks

Click on the photo to view the slideshow and fireworks movie

Thursday night, near the mercado Ignacio Ramirez, the final event of the celebration of the Virgen de Guadalupe was held. Vendors food booths and people filled the streets. The Virgin’s altar was in full bloom, the procession of women carrying a wood nicho on a litter of flowers, and singing Buenos días, Paloma Blanca, had just arrived, followed by a lineup of followers who are served tamales and atole.

Castillo fireworks, which in this case include the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe who will be burned up in flames at the end of the evening, are being assembled in the street, roped to the surrounding buildings. It is a raggedy but self assured group of men from Guanajuato climbing around these towers, tying rockets, whistlers and vueltas. Grupo La Tuna Provinciana de San Miguel de Allende, dressed in black velvet shakespearan costume continue on from the women carrying the litter with Buenos días, Paloma Blanca, one of the many songs written for the Virgin of Guadalupe. It is song you would probably recognize, widely sung by mariachis, norteno bands, school children and women carrying statues, whenever the Virgin is present.

As the evening wears on and the crowd has had it’s share of pozole, tamales, enchiladas, gorditas, hamburgers and fries, the rockets begin. Roman candles are lit off in the middle of the street one after another from a triple iron stand, watched by it’s owner who counts the number of booms by bobbing his head and looking up in the sky after each one. The rockets are followed by the lighting of the first side of the castillo, popping and crackling as the first fuse ignites.

The banda Risuena, dressed in shiny silver suits, decked out for the occasion, begin playing a cacophany of songs and drum rolls, accompanied by trumpets, trombone, clarinets, providing music for the display. After all these years, I still don’t quite get the banda music, which in local groups include the youngest of children to the old guys who have been practicing for years but sound like they can’t hold a tune. But over time, even I can hear the difference between the local neighborhood groups and the professionals. One thing for sure though, if there is a banda, there is a party, and they are there to help it along.

CLICK ON THE PHOTO to view the movie

The photos of castillo fireworks towers don’t really do justice to the feeling they create in the street while they are going off all over the place, sending flames and paper into the crowds. Up until about three years ago, young boys, from ages five to about thirteen, were allowed to run under the falling sparks, wearing cardboard boxes over their heads and backs, a rite of passage that is no longer allowed here in San Miguel. Nevertheless, these are thrilling fireworks to watch in person, something impossible to compare to anything you’ve ever seen in the U.S. and certainly nothing you would ever be allowed to watch from 25 feet away.

Click on the photo to view the song

As for the subject of this post, Buenos días, Paloma Blanca, here is the Grupo La Tuna Provinciana singing the song, with the words to follow along below. Click on the photo to view the video.

Here’s the words, which kick in mid-song:
Buenos días, Paloma Blanca

Hoy te vengo a saludar.
Saludando tu belleza
En tu trono celestial.
Eres Madre del creador
Y a mi corazón encantas
Grácias te doy con amor
Buenos días, Paloma Blanca.

Niña linda, niña santa
Tu dulce nombre alabar.
Porque eres tan sacrosanta
Hoy te vengo a saludar.
Reluciente como el alba
Pura, sencilla y sin mancha
Qué gusto recibe mi alma!
Buenos días, Paloma Blanca.

Que linda está la mañana
El aroma de las flores.
Despiden suaves olores
Antes de romper el alba.
Mi pecho con voz ufana
Grácias te da, Madre mía
En este dichoso día
Antes de romper el alba.

Cielo azul yo te convido
En este dichoso día.
A que prestes tu hermosura
A las flores de María.
Madre mía de Guadalupe
Dáme ya tu bendición
Recibe éstas mañanitas
De un humilde corazón.

December 18, 2009

Nacimiento Babes

Every Christmas,
Markets are set up all over town,
Hundreds of stalls selling
Tree bark,
Fir boughs,
Painted clay figures,
Glittery things,
Nino Jesus dolls,
And elaborate hand made clothing
To dress him in, for his birth

Nacimentos (nativities) here in Mexico,
Are room size affairs.
They are not a little box that sits on your hearth,
Not by any stretch of the imagination.
They literally fill a whole corner or wall of the living room.

In the next posts,
I’ll go into the making of a nativity
The fabulous over the top Christmas markets here,
But for now, here are the babes of the nacimientos.

Click on the photo to view the slideshow

If you click on the photo above,
It will take you to a slideshow of these gorgeous creatures.
These dolls belong to the owners of the market booths.
They will be placed in their nativities on Christmas eve.
Some are very old, have chips and flaws,
Have been repaired.
They can be found in outfits
Ranging from nurses to the pope.

The owners of these market stalls
Have been sewing for months –
Some all year long
To bring these charming outfits to market
For you to buy for your baby Jesus.
© 2009 Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art

December 12, 2009

Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe

CLICK on this photo to view the video, Virgen de Guadalupe 2009

I think the saying goes
‘Let me count the ways’
And today, the multitude of ways they honor the Guadalupe, Lupe, Lupita, beginning at midnight with fireworks and a mariachi mass.

At 7am there is a rosary at the altar down the street, with singing, praying, tamales and atole.

Every statue in town is decorated, every statue is sung and prayed to. Many are carried through the town in arms, atop taxis, in nichos, carried by four women on litters that are covered in flowers. She is placed in doorways and windows, serenaded to by norteno bands, recorded music in the markets, and the people.

Her altars are decorated in gold lamé,
Red, white and green flowers and Christmas lights.
She is made from wood, paper,
Plastic, plaster, metal, clay and sequins.
Her image is on everything from notebooks
To curtains to car windows.
She resides in everyone’s home.
They believe in her with all their hearts.

In our neighborhood
Her altar is painted on a wall, decorated with flowers, bread and food. There is a rosary and singing after which everyone dresses up in their locos costume to party, eat and dance. There’s even a greased pole with presents at the top for the children to climb.

Click on the photo below
to watch the movie of how today’s day in honor of the Virgen de Guadalupe unfolds.

CLICK on this photo to view the video -- Virgen de Guadalupe 2009