Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fireworks for the Virgin

It's Virgin time again! The neighborhood churches are celebrating the Feast of the Ascension of the Virgin Mary. They start late in July with a carnival at San Sebastian Church, two blocks west of my house. Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, and a few amusement park rides are lit up and filled with folks at night. People fill the park, eat, play games, and hang out through mid-August. I think the church services require the exploding of bottle rockets all day and night. It seems like there is less action this year compared to my first two years in the neighborhood, but that just might be because I haven't bothered to walk up there!

Today was the first procession I noticed in the street. The explosions sounded like bombs going off outside the front gate. When I went to look, I saw this:

This was not the most enthusiastic procession I have seen, but it's 103°F outside and walking on hot asphalt in the city is brutal. The ladies were dressed in huipiles and I captured a few beautiful smiles.

There were many banners like these, and I have no idea what they signify.
The parade even had a marching band!
The patron saint of San Sebastian church and of all Mexico is the Virgin Mary. So although other churches may have their own patron saint, they all still celebrate every one of Mary's feast days. That means the fireworks also go off at La Ermita Church, one block south of here, all day and night for weeks leading up to the big day. The processions may head to a cathedral nearly 25 blocks from here, or maybe they just walk from San Sebastian to La Ermita. I guess I should either research this (I'll put it on my list!) or just follow them one day to see if I can get a grip on this odd mixture of religion, cultures and traditions. It is a pleasure to see them maintain these customs and walk forward proudly with their beliefs.

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