Noche Buena (Christmas Eve)

It was far more likely that there would be love, falling like rain from above, changing the hearts of the wicked; transforming them.

Alexander McCall Smith, The Miracle at Speedy Motors

christmas tree sellersLos caballeros perched on the tailgate of the truck drove through colonia Santa Julia on Friday, offering for sale (announced via loudspeaker) greens and Christmas trees. I never experienced door-to-door sales of trees NoB.

Earlier this week I wrote about Father Emmett Coyne, who finds the theology of the Roman Catholic church to be filled with fear, including that of the mortal sins and that the church seeks to control, not liberate church members. Nothing really new there, but his arguments are compelling as they are based on the Sermon of the Mount.

Many piñatas, especially those for the Christmas season, are star-shaped with seven points (one point up, one down, five pointing laterally) – one for each of the deadly sins – los pecados capitas. Capitas or capital is derived from the Latin caput (head), so other sins – venial or mortal – have their origins in one of these “deadly sins.”

Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians told those folks to refrain from:  fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, “and such like.”

By the 4th century C.E. Evagrius Ponticus, a monk, had shrunk the list to just eight evil thoughts.

In the 6th century C.E. Pope Gregory I combined a few of the evil thoughts and brought envy back into the list (for a while it seemed okay for mortals to be envious, as is the current custom), thereby reducing the list to just seven. There is also a list of seven holy virtues, although I suspect Dante Aligheri was unaware of these. I wasn’t able to determine whether (a) the list of sins was whittled down to ease life for the parishioner (highly unlikely), (b) the virtues were invented to provide needed symmetry, or (c) the church leaders couldn’t think of more virtues, so it was necessary to shorten the list of sins. Here is the current list of deadly sins and corresponding holy virtues:

  1. lechery & lust / chastity
  2. gluttony / temperance
  3. avarice & greed) / charity
  4. sloth & discouragement / diligence
  5. wrath / patience
  6. envy / kindness
  7. pride / humility

The piñata originated as a means for the Franciscans to teach indigenous people about sin, which evidently proved a difficult concept to inculcate; however, the piñata proved an excellent teaching aid:  temptation falls from above, touches one, then dances away. Blind(folded) to its workings, those close to us must guide us in the right direction, and if we strike strongly, the points of the piñata (evil) are crushed. Having resisted temptation we are rewarded with candy, fruits and nuts from above, from heaven.

Yesterday (Sunday) El Centro was extremely busy with families shopping, store keepers and others putting up decorations, church goers, and tourists. Many people carried large bags of fruit or vegetables in anticipation of the preparation of tonight’s family feasts. There were many families gathered at homes along Calle Carolina, some cars had Texas license plates and temporary Guanajuato permits.

Noche Buena (Christmas Eve), the night of the ninth and last posada, is more important than is Christmas Day. A life-size manger with live lambs and a burro will be set up in the center of El Jardín. After the posada passes by in early evening, everyone will go home to get ready for the party, which will go on most of the night. There is a midnight mass (Misa de Gallo) to attend. Some gifts may be exchanged, but most children’s gifts will magically appear for Three Kings’ Day, the Day of the Epiphany (January 6).

Las Posadas began when Spanish Catholic missionaries asked Rome if they could celebrate nine Christmas Masses, one for each of Mary’s nine months of pregnancy. The nine nights of the posadas just happened to coincide with the 9-day celebration of the virgin birth of the Aztec Sun god, Huitzilopchtli.

Noche de Paz (letras)

You might know this song as Silent Night or Stille Nacht or Douce Nuit.

Noche de paz, noche de amor,
Todo duerme en derredor.
Entre sus astros que esparcen su luz
Bella anunciando al niñito Jesús.
Brilla la estrella de paz,
Brilla la estrella de paz.

Noche de paz, noche de amor,
Todo duerme en derredor.
Sólo velan en la oscuridad
Los pastores que en el campo están
Y la estrella de Belén,
Y la estrella de Belén.

Noche de paz, noche de amor,
Todo duerme en derredor.
Sobre el santo niño Jesús
Una estrella esparce su luz,
Brilla sobre el Rey,
Brilla sobre el Rey.

Noche de paz, noche de amor,
Todo duerme en derredor;
Fieles velando allí en Belén
Los pastores, la madre también,
Y la estrella de paz,
Y la estrella de paz.


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