Monday, January 30, 2012

The Baby Jesus of Brooklyn: Candlemass

Mexican Traditions help wayfarers against their homesickness -- Candlemass, in the Spanish is called, 'Candelaria',  brings the Christ Child into the Church.  by Gundula Schmidt-Graute [KNA]

New York ( Life in New York is hard, especially for Mexican newcomers, who are often without official papers.  The Feast of Candlemass, which will take place on February means home and warm to them.  In their home, in Mexican, Candlemass is an important feast day.  Actually the Mexicans in New York can not travel back home in the middle of winter.  So they make themselves as comfortable as possible in the sleet and cold.

Some participate in traditional services in The Church of the All Holy in Brooklyn.  The church is brightly lit on the 2nd of February, the many holy figures look homey and warm between the neo-Gothic columns.  The people speak softly, mostly in Spanish.  Even the children are quiet and serious.  One sees many indian faces there.  Adults carry little baskets or stick puppets with elaborately decorated and dressed baby puppets.  Some of the figures have white, but most are in colorful dresses.  It is the Jesus Child from the family crib -- much larger than any, which one would find in a European crib.

 >>At Candlemass, which is 'Candalaria' in Spanish, the Jesus Child is brought into Church<<, explained Juan Carlos Aguirre of the Mexican Cultural Association 'Manoamano' [Hand in hand].  >>As Jesus, according to Jewish tradition was brought into the Temple in Jerusalem 40 days after his birth.  That is also the Liturgical end of the Christmas season.<< It begins in Mexico on the 16th of December.  >>One goes from house to house on the 25th and plays Mary and Joseph looking for lodging.<< , explained Aguirre.  >>These are called 'Posadas' [Inns].  On Christmas Day the Jesus Child will be lain the a crib.<<

The Feast of the Three Kings is also important in Latin American Tradition.  In East Harlem, the largest Hispanic concentration in Manhattan, a parade takes place with countless Kings and real camels.  Mexican families break bread: >>rosca<< as it is called;  a kind of cross bun, in which a small figure of Jesus is baked inside.  Whoever finds it is the Godfather of the Jesus Child and responsible for the dressing and eventual repair of an older crib figure.  The Godfather must also have a small party in their home after Mass. >>The object hidden in the bread also has special meaning.<<, said a member of the Cultural Association.  >>King Herod wanted to kill the child, who he learned from the wise men from the East would be declared as a new king.<<

At Maria Candlemas the Priest is dressed completely in white.  All of the songs sung will be Marian, and the Ave Maria will be prayed.  Newborns are brought to the altar and the priest blesses them.  The largest part of the service takes place in Spanish.  >>We pray for families who've been the victims of violence.

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