Thursday, December 13, 2007

Poinsetta Snatchers

Christmas time in Mexico City is clearly marked when poinsettas, or noche buenas, begin popping up everywhere. After all, poinsettas are native to Mexico. It's a busy time for flower vendors who sell on the street because the noche buenas are in huge demand and can go for anywhere from $1- 10 dollars, depending on the size.

We decided to buy a few and put them on our window sill, which is accessible to anyone passing through the sidewalk. We had them out for about two days until some passerby yanked the poinsetta from the pot and took it. At first I thought maybe it was some kids passing by and destroying things along the way. But we were told that the most likely poinsetta snatchers were the same flower sellers who are down the street. Apparently, they snatch the flower with its root intact and even a little dirt from the pot, then replant it and resell it. Smart.

So we bought some more poinsettas (probably we bought back the ones the same ones that were stolen from us) and got creative with our very own anti-poinsetta theft device. We'll see if these make it through the Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pilgrims arrive in Mexico City

Millions of pilgrims have arrived in the megalopolis today for perhaps the most important religious holiday in Mexico--Our Lady of Guadalupe Day. The Virgen de Guadalupe is often called the "Queen of Mexico" because of nation's devotion to her. Celebrations here began earlier this week as devotees from all over the nation and U.S. made the trek to the Basilica and Tepeyac hill, where she first appeared in the 1500s.

At about 11 p.m. last night, Jeremy and I spotted dozens and dozens of pilgrim cyclists --with framed images of the Virgen de Guadalupe tied to their bikes --pedal down a major southern Mexico City road. People on the side of the road handed out things to the cyclists, which I believe was food or water. It was a beautiful sight to see. The Mexico City daily El Universal reported today that a group of about 150 cyclists pedaled here from the state of Morelos. Perhaps it was the same group we spotted.

It is tradition on the morning of the 12th (around 6 or 7 a.m.) for devotees to gather and sing "Las MaƱanitas" to the Virgen, which is the song sung on a person's birthday. Firecrackers have been popping non-stop since yesterday evening. At first, this seems a little jarring since the loud and roaring noises sound more like a battle zone, but after awhile you get used to it. I even managed to sleep through the night.

The devotion to the Virgen de Guadalupe has always been strong in my family, mainly because of the strong devotion my maternal grandmother had to her. This sentiment has been passed down, and remains even more special because my mother was also named after the Virgen de Guadalupe.

To learn more about the Virgen de Guadalupe, click on the blog title above.