March 31, 2012

Semana Santa in San Miguel de Allende–Our Lady of Sorrows

The Parroquia of Saint Michael the Archangel
All photos courtesy of Michael Coon
This is the third time since I began my love affair with Mexico, San Miguel de Allende in particular, that I have been absent during Holy Week. It's March 31st, 2012 and seeing as in other parts it's not yet Holy Week, it's an opportunity to point out that San Miguel de Allende typically does holidays and festivos bigger and twice as long as anywhere else. With more fireworks at unGODly hours than anywhere else. Nothing makes my heart leap higher, sing louder and smile wider–and I don't mean because each bang at 4am seems louder than the last, though that may be true! 

In Toronto this year, as I prepare for two upcoming Mexican meals I'll be preparing at The Depanneur(stay tuned for my Good Friday meal of Tarascan Bean Soup and a selection of tostadas- veg and fish choices for observers and an extra special choice for meat eaters-check my previous posts for hints!), I have been following closely, yet from a distance, the various festivities, altar displays and Saintly observances.

Woman In Colonia San Antonio
assembles altar
An altar in Centro
Yesterday, Friday March 30, marked the feast day of the Virgin of Sorrows (Nuestra Señora de los Dolores). Now, knowing the translation, I can't help but sympathize with women who bear the name "Dolores". Pain? Sorrow? Not a moniker I'd want to be saddled with.  But I digress. Overnight, people throughout the town and in the Jardin ("garden"- the town square) assemble devotional altars-–some elaborate and artistic, some humble, but each with a sincerity and depth I have never before witnessed. (Yes, you may note I mentioned I have not been in SMA for this particular occasion, but this kind of devotional display happens on a regular basis). 

A modern interpretation of tradition...

Vendors weave through town with their burros pulling wagons laden with tiny sheaves of wheat. These, symbolizing resurrection and hope, along with bitter orange, symbolizing suffering, and gold foil for purity are the key elements in these altars which grace the windows and doorways of homes, in courtyards of businesses, and in gardens.This, like many of the traditional cultural events and holidays offers an opportunity for the creative contingent in San Miguel to represent. The inspiration comes from the locals, the creative interpretations show the modern world view that blossoms in this city I love, rich with tradition and culture and absolutely bursting with life!

Thanks again Michael Coon for your daily Facebook photos which help keep me close to San Miguel. I'll be back for Dia de los Muertos for sure... 

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