Roses and Horses: Christmas in Mexico


Alas, we have two weeks remaining to our sojourn in San Miguel de Allende.

Yesterday was a big day, the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The Virgin Mary appeared to St. Juan Diaz in 1531. He authenticated the miracle to the bishop by presenting a cloak full of roses when roses were out of season and nowhere to be found. So, lots of roses everywhere yesterday, including banks of roses in the churches. Such a festival also means continuous ringing of church bells and fireworks all day and all night. You get used to it, the fireworks that is.

We visited two Guadalupe celebrations, one in the nearby neighborhood of San Antonio, where hundreds of pilgrims had come, on foot or horseback, to the neighborhood parish church from ranches in the countryside. Some bore banners identifying the ranch or village they represented.

Lots of horses right in the middle of town. Beautiful and fun. Of course, I don’t have to pick up the horse poop. In the evening we went to the neighborhood of Guadalupe, on the north side of San Miguel, where a Catholic school and orphanage were holding a fund-raiser. A lot like school fund-raisers everywhere (food, booths selling rummage, entertainment), except for the fire-crackers going on few minutes. Wouldn’t happen in the States these days. We’d think an active shooter was on the loose.

On the way back from that event, we stopped at a bakery where they had fresh pumpkin filled empanadas. Linda’s grandmother, who was Mexican and lived in Tucson, used to make these and other treats and mail them to family at Christmas.

In El Centro, there are gazillion lights and decorations, with more to come for La Posada. Here’s a photo that Linda’s sister, Midge, took. Linda and me walking up one of the streets decorated by countless starlights. We’re beginning to look a bit like Abraham and Sarah, or maybe, to make it more like the Christmas Story, Anna and Simeon, the two old people in the Jerusalem Temple to whom Joseph and Mary presented their week-old son (see Luke 2).

I’ve always thought the presence in the Christmas story of Zechariah and Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s aged and childless parents), as well as Anna and Simeon, reminds us that grace is not just for the young nor Christmas not just for children, as some like to say. There is grace, even new life, for the old too.

Another grace note, in case you are behind in your Christmas shopping . . . plead orthodoxy or ortho-practice. Christmas has 12 days. Presents can be given on any of the 12 days of Christmas. They don’t all have to arrive on December 24 or 25. As many of you know, throughout Latin America the gifts aren’t given until Epiphany, January 6, the day when the Three Kings finally arrived in Bethlehem.

Anthony B. Robinson
Anthony B. Robinson
Tony is a writer, teacher, speaker and ordained minister (United Church of Christ). He served as Senior Minister of Seattle’s Plymouth Congregational Church for fourteen years. His newest book is Useful Wisdom: Letters to Young (and not so young) Ministers. He divides his time between Seattle and a cabin in Wallowa County of northeastern Oregon. If you’d like to know more or receive his regular blogs in your email, go to his site listed above to sign-up.


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