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Posts Tagged ‘Navidad’

This year, a Christmas tree grows in Oaxaca.  Well, not a real, living tree.  This one, almost 3-stories tall, was constructed over several days alongside the Cathedral.

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Adding the green panels to the frame.

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Hanging the lights.

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So far, so good!

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All dressed up and ready to go.

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Lights on; crowds assembled!

What can I say?  Nacimientos (Nativity scenes) are traditional here; Christmas trees are not.  However, despite what we like to think, traditions are not static, they evolve.  People come and go across oceans and across borders and they bring back what captures their fancy.  All I know is that the city is alive with the sound of music, energy, and lightness of being.

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This is how I feel today…

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Actually, I took this a few weeks ago on Matamoros (at Tinoco y Palacios) with the intention of writing a blog post lamenting Christmas traditions (Christmas trees, Santa Claus, consumerism, etc.) migrating down from el norte.  But, I think I’ll just let the image speak for itself.

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‘Tis Christmas Eve in Nueva York and, while we may be dreaming of a white Christmas, there is not a snowflake in sight.  However, the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, a plate of Christmas cookies is awaiting a hungry Santa Claus, and tonight I will read Pancho Claus to my grandson.  It will be his first time hearing Ernie Villarreal’s version of Pancho Claus by Chicano music legend, Eduardo “Lalo” Guerrero.  Hopefully, he will learn a few more words in Spanish and, whether I’m visiting or not, it will become a family tradition.

Palm leaf horse & rider ornament

Pancho Claus

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through la casa
Not a creature was stirring, Caramba! ¿Que pasa?

Los ninos were all tucked away in their camas,
Some in vestidos and some in pajamas.
While Mama worked late in her little cocina,
El viejo was down at the corner cantina.

The stockings were hanging con mucho cuidado,
In hopes that St. Nicholas would feel obligado
To bring all the children, both buenos y malos,
A Nice batch of dulces and other regalos.

Outside in the yard, there arouse such a grito,
That I jumped to my feet, like a frightened cabrito.

I went to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world, do you think que era?

Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero!

And pulling his sleigh instead of venados,
Were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came, and this little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre.

¡Ay, Pancho! ¡Ay, Pepe! ¡Ay, Cuca! ¡Ay, Beto!
¡Ay, Chato! ¡¡Ay, Chopo! ¡Maruca and ¡Nieto!

Then standing erect with his hand on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea.

Then huffing and puffing, at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala.

He filled the stockings with lovely regalos,
For none of the children had been very malos.

Then chuckling aloud and seeming contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.

And I heard him exclaim and this is VERDAD,
Merry Christmas to all, And to All ¡Feliz Navidad!

Painted gourd ornament

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It’s a quiet Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) in my childhood home here in Mill Valley.  There are no sparklers to wave, no nacimiento stands in the town plaza, and no posadas are likely to knock on the front door tonight.  However, there is a fire burning in the fireplace, stockings hang from the mantle, and a Douglas Fir is standing in the living room wearing four generations of family Christmas treasures.

And, visions from Ernie Villarreal’s version of Pancho Claus, by Chicano music legend, Eduardo “Lalo” Guerrero, dance in my head.

Pancho Claus

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through la casa
Not a creature was stirring, Caramba! ¿Que pasa?

Los ninos were all tucked away in their camas,
Some in vestidos and some in pajamas.
While Mama worked late in her little cocina,
El viejo was down at the corner cantina.

The stockings were hanging con mucho cuidado,
In hopes that St. Nicholas would feel obligado
To bring all the children, both buenos y malos,
A Nice batch of dulces and other regalos.

Outside in the yard, there arouse such a grito,
That I jumped to my feet, like a frightened cabrito.

I went to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world, do you think que era?

Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero!

And pulling his sleigh instead of venados,
Were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came, and this little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre.

¡Ay, Pancho! ¡Ay, Pepe! ¡Ay, Cuca! ¡Ay, Beto!
¡Ay, Chato! ¡¡Ay, Chopo! ¡Maruca and ¡Nieto!

Then standing erect with his hand on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea.

Then huffing and puffing, at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala.

He filled the stockings with lovely regalos,
For none of the children had been very malos.

Then chuckling aloud and seeming contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.

And I heard him exclaim and this is VERDAD,
Merry Christmas to all, And to All ¡Feliz Navidad!

Carlsberg and Stella Artois… What is it about beer and Christmas?

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Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) in Oaxaca means posadas from churches around the city converge on the zócalo.  Flatbed trucks carrying Jesus, Mary, and Josephs; fireworks, pinwheels, and sparklers; brass bands; China Oaxaqueña folkloric dancers; and the faithful carrying candles arrive to circle the zócalo again and again and again.  Spectators, young and old wave sparklers, take photos, and crack powder or confetti filled eggs on each others heads — and it’s quite a scene!

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And, in what has become a Christmas Eve tradition (it was still Christmas Eve when I began this post) on my blog, Ernie Villarreal’s version of the song, Pancho Claus, by Chicano music legend, Eduardo “Lalo” Guerrero.

Pancho Claus

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through la casa
Not a creature was stirring, Caramba! ¿Que pasa?

Los ninos were all tucked away in their camas,
Some in vestidos and some in pajamas.
While Mama worked late in her little cocina,
El viejo was down at the corner cantina.

The stockings were hanging con mucho cuidado,
In hopes that St. Nicholas would feel obligado
To bring all the children, both buenos y malos,
A Nice batch of dulces and other regalos.

Outside in the yard, there arouse such a grito,
That I jumped to my feet, like a frightened cabrito.

I went to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world, do you think que era?

Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero!

And pulling his sleigh instead of venados,
Were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came, and this little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre.

¡Ay, Pancho! ¡Ay, Pepe! ¡Ay, Cuca! ¡Ay, Beto!
¡Ay, Chato! ¡¡Ay, Chopo! ¡Maruca and ¡Nieto!

Then standing erect with his hand on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea.

Then huffing and puffing, at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala.

He filled the stockings with lovely regalos,
For none of the children had been very malos.

Then chuckling aloud and seeming contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.

And I heard him exclaim and this is VERDAD,
Merry Christmas to all, And to All ¡Feliz Navidad!

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The rabanos, danzantes, and I wish a happy holidays to all…

Photos from Noche de Rabanos.   And, my rapidly becoming a Christmas Eve blog tradition…

Pancho Claus

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through la casa
Not a creature was stirring, Caramba! ¿Que pasa?

Los ninos were all tucked away in their camas,
Some in vestidos and some in pajamas.
While Mama worked late in her little cocina,
El viejo was down at the corner cantina.

The stockings were hanging con mucho cuidado,
In hopes that St. Nicholas would feel obligado
To bring all the children, both buenos y malos,
A Nice batch of dulces and other regalos.

Outside in the yard, there arouse such a grito,
That I jumped to my feet, like a frightened cabrito.

I went to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world, do you think que era?

Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero!

And pulling his sleigh instead of venados,
Were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came, and this little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre.

¡Ay, Pancho! ¡Ay, Pepe! ¡Ay, Cuca! ¡Ay, Beto!
¡Ay, Chato! ¡¡Ay, Chopo! ¡Maruca and ¡Nieto!

Then standing erect with his hand on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea.

Then huffing and puffing, at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala.

He filled the stockings with lovely regalos,
For none of the children had been very malos.

Then chuckling aloud and seeming contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.

And I heard him exclaim and this is VERDAD,
Merry Christmas to all, And to All ¡Feliz Navidad!

Ernie Villarreal’s version of the song, Pancho Claus, by Chicano music legend, Eduardo “Lalo” Guerrero.

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Although Christmas trees are making inroads, in Oaxaca it is the nacimiento de navidad (nativity scene) that is the omnipresent symbol of Christmas.  Unique and personal, they are seen everywhere; the zócalo, homes, hotel lobbies, store windows, and every kind of business you can think of!

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And, yes, this “spiritual but not religious” gringa couldn’t resist a miniature woven straw one of her own. It’s a work of art!

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For the first time since I began nesting in my cozy little rooftop casita, I’m not heading north for Christmas.  I admit to having decidedly mixed feelings; my family and most of my closest friends are up in El Norte and I’m already missing them and the traditions we have created.  However, this year I get to share the holidays with new friends, create new traditions, and experience festivities heretofore unimagined — Noche de Rabanos (Night of the Radishes)?  I can’t wait!

In the meantime, to bring a little of the familiar into the mix, I bought a Christmas tree.  Not a real one (sad face) and not one of those seen below that my local supermarket has had for sale for several weeks.  Mine is decidedly smaller, measuring exactly two feet, and…

Three decorated Christmas trees with 30% discount signs

too small to hang my favorite Mexican ornaments on its un-scented, wiry but green(!) boughs.  These colorful and wonderfully bouncy decorations will be purchased and a place for them in and around Casita Colibrí will be found.

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Trimming my tree will present some challenges.  No cartons of ornaments, lovingly collected and stored by four generations of the family, to bring down from the attic.  And, as I’ve said, the tree is tiny.  I’m thinking… digging into my earring collection might be a good place to start.

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However, these earrings will have to wait to adorn the tree until after I wear them tomorrow.  December 8 is the celebration of the Virgen de Juquila — the first of three Vírgenes honored by Oaxaqueños in December.  There will be parades.  There will be fireworks.  There will be wildly clanging church bells.  And, there will be an abundance of magic this month, of this I have no doubt!

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A few weeks ago, my neighbor gave me the following poem based on the Clement C. Moore classic, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  The author, she said, was unknown.  The reference librarian in me couldn’t resist doing a little digging and found that this is Texas Public Radio DJ Ernie Villarreal’s version of the song, Pancho Claus, by Chicano music legend, Eduardo “Lalo” Guerrero.

~~~

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through la casa
Not a creature was stirring, Caramba! ¿Que pasa?

Los ninos were all tucked away in their camas,
Some in vestidos and some in pajamas.
While Mama worked late in her little cocina,
El viejo was down at the corner cantina.

The stockings were hanging con mucho cuidado,
In hopes that St. Nicholas would feel obligado
To bring all the children, both buenos y malos,
A Nice batch of dulces and other regalos.

Outside in the yard, there arouse such a grito,
That I jumped to my feet, like a frightened cabrito.

I went to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world, do you think que era?

Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero!

And pulling his sleigh instead of venados,
Were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came, and this little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre.

¡Ay, Pancho! ¡Ay, Pepe! ¡Ay, Cuca! ¡Ay, Beto!
¡Ay, Chato! ¡¡Ay, Chopo! ¡Maruca
and ¡Nieto!

Then standing erect with his hand on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea.

Then huffing and puffing, at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala.

He filled the stockings with lovely regalos,
For none of the children had been very malos.

Then chuckling aloud and seeming contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.

And I heard him exclaim and this is VERDAD,
Merry Christmas to all, And to All ¡Feliz Navidad!

~~~

Multicolor star-shaped piñata against blue sky.

Piñata at the southeast corner of the zócalo in Oaxaca.

Paz y alegría a todos  ~~  Peace and joy to all.

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And the juxtapositions continue; the annual nativity scene set up on the zócalo in Oaxaca across from the Government Palace and the ongoing occupation by the women of San Juan Copala, not to mention the ubiquitous banners of  Section 22 of the Teachers’ Union.

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Then there were the impossibly cute kids and a rapid request from them.  “Mas despacio, por favor,” sez I.  A slow motion reply followed, “To-ma nu-es-tra fo-to,” sez the older girl.  And, so I did!

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…warms the night and the heart.

After a week (plus) of temps that dropped into the high 30s/low 40s during the night (Brrrr… central heating, what’s that?), sun, clear blue sky, and mild evening temperatures have returned.  It’s perfect weather for strolling around la ciudad, wandering in and out of artesania shops, doing a little stress-free Christmas shopping, and pausing every once in a while to absorb the scene.

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You might have noticed, the angel from Friday’s post successfully ascended the ladder and now graces the top of the stable.  And, along with bells and Rudolph, a Star of David hangs on the side of a building.  Interesting… this is the first time I’ve seen it as part of holiday decorations.  By the way, there are no synagogues in Oaxaca.

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Oaxaca is gearing up for Christmas.  Thankfully, it is not (yet) as hectic and commercial as in el norte.  Though decorations have been been displayed, front and center, in my local Soriana super-mercado for at least a month, it is only in the last few days that the city’s electricians have been positioning lights on the trees around the zócalo…

Electrician positioning light on tree

to  illuminate the welcoming niño.

Mannequin of boy in sombrero and sarape

Lambs have begun appearing…

Long white-haired mannequin carrying lamb.

Angels are being elevated…

Workman about to carry an angel mannequin up a ladder.

Clothing is laundered in preparation for Navidad…

Female mannequin washing clothes as mannequins of lambs watch.

And, thousands of poinsettias have been brought in to add splashes of color to the beds beneath the 130+ year old Indian laurels.

Flower bed of poinsettias under Indian laurel tree.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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Feliz Navidad

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