Tag: feast

Jan 6 2011

Celebrating Three Kings Day

Two CFCA projects explain the Three Kings Day celebrations taking place on Jan. 6:

Mexico

In most parts of Mexico, they believe that the Three Kings, or the Magi ó traditionally Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar ó visit the homes at dawn on Jan. 6 to leave gifts for children who have behaved well throughout the year.

Children write letters to the Magi asking for the toys they would like. This tradition is based on the Biblical passage where the three kings brought the child Jesus gold, incense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11).

Kings Cake

Children in Cuernavaca, Mexico, wait to partake of the traditional ìRosca de Reyes,î or Kings Cake ñ a bread with sugar and crystallized fruit.

Days before Jan. 6, parents buy gifts and hide them from the children so they are surprised and believe the kings brought the gifts.

On Jan. 6, the children wake up early, impatient and thrilled to find the gifts left for them. The children play with their toys all day long with their siblings and friends.

Families, offices, schools, neighbors, friends ñ in short, everyone ñ partakes of the traditional ìRosca de Reyes,î or Kings Cake, which is a bread in the shape of a ring decorated with sugar and crystallized fruit.

Various small plastic dolls about an inch and a half long are hidden inside to represent the baby Jesus.

Each person cuts his or her own piece of cake, and those who find a doll inside must bring tamales to everyone present on Feb. 2, the day when Mexican families bring the statue of baby Jesus to the church for a blessing.

According to the Bible, that is the day when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple.

This tradition is practiced primarily in urban and suburban communities, because families in rural areas do not have the economic means to do so.

-Written and edited by: Daniel Luna, Alicia Garza Ramos and Angelica Lozada at the CFCA project in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Martha Meireles, Cuernavaca project coordinator, sent us this report.

Dominican Republic

The celebration of Three Kings Day is one of the biggest traditions in the Dominican Republic.

The celebration starts Jan. 4 when children write letters for the three kings describing the gifts they want and put them in Christmas trees, on beds or give them to their parents.

On Jan. 5 in the afternoon, children find grass, water and food, and place them under their beds for the camels and wise men to eat and drink and eat when they visit at night.

On this day, children go to bed earlier than usual. Once the children are asleep, parents place the gifts under their bed or at the Christmas tree and take the food away to let the children know the three kings visited them.

At dawn, you can hear in the street whistles, laughter and the sound of bikes, children running and playing with their toys after opening the gifts.

The celebration is extended to the community because the children visit their neighbors to show them their gifts, and the neighbors usually give them other gifts left for them by the wise men.

This tradition turns a normal day into a magical day and offers an unforgettable memory that will last all their lives.

This beautiful tradition is full of faith and love holding a magical world of fantasies uniting families and communities.

-Nelson Figueroa, CFCA project coordinator in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, sent us this report.

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Dec 12 2010

‘Mother of all Mexican Catholics': Feast Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe

Mexicans celebrate the Feast Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Dec. 12, beginning one day before in the shrines of our Lady of Guadalupe or the chapels that bear her name. There are Masses, confessions, dances and readings of the story of her appearances on Mexican soil.

Here is a Q-and-A with the CFCA project in MÈrida about the feast day.

In MÈrida it is a tradition that at the shrine of Saint Christopher, pilgrims are received a month before from all corners of the state of Yucat·n, neighbor states, guilds, schools, companies and diverse institutions. There is also an open air dance all night long on Dec. 11.

I have been told that some people participate in a pilgrimage to MÈxico City to celebrate at the Basilica of Guadalupe. Can you tell me about this?

The pilgrimages are carried out by groups with torches, families and even entire towns, who arrive at the basilica, to ask or give thanks for favors from the Virgin, or as a promise from a family tradition (sickness, births, etc.).

Do any members of the CFCA community participate in these pilgrimages?

People from the CFCA community participate in these pilgrimages, walks or Masses. It is a celebration in all of MÈxico for Catholic families on this day.

Virgin of Guadalupe

CFCA scholar Jes˙s Federico displays a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The pilgrimages vary, depending on the distance from the start to the final place. It can be 1 day and up to 15 days for the long ones. All are supposed to arrive on Dec. 12 to hear Mass and receive the benediction and then return.

Those pilgrimages are done on foot, on bicycles or running on one’s knees, depending on the promise offered. The Virgin of Guadalupe reminds us the promise of the mother of God to be with us in difficult moments.

She presented herself as a mestiza, with indigenous and Spanish characteristics, to include everyone under her protection.

Any other information or commentary that you would like to add?

The Virgin of Guadalupe is the mother of all Mexican Catholics by tradition. There is a faith and fervor that exists within us for her that is inexplicable. To us, she is miraculous and if you ask her for something and you have faith, we are sure that she will honor you.

Jes˙s Federico is a 15-year-old CFCA scholar. He is in the first semester of computer science and also serves in the Church as an altar boy and catechist.

Why do you participate in this pilgrimage?

It is a way of showing my faith and gratitude to the Virgin of Guadalupe, and it motivates me in my personal life to move ahead, and it is a family and community tradition.

Since when have you been participating in this pilgrimage? What is your route and distance covered?

This is the second year that I am going to participate. We go from the community where I live with a group of 30 people: family and friends.

It is about 180 kilometers (112 miles) away and we are going in a group, in which every person runs for about 20 minutes and then is replaced, and that is how we cover all the distance.

On the way we meet a lot of people who offer food to the whole group as part of their offerings to the Virgin. They give us water in the communities we pass along the way and they treat us really well.

We are always careful because we could be prone to highway accidents.

It is an unforgettable experience and all because of our dear Virgin of Guadalupe.

During the trips we sing chants to the Virgin and everyone takes offerings and promises to be fulfilled in the future. Also, a few days before the trips we have meetings in the Church where they explain to us the significance of the pilgrimage and about the love that we should have for our Virgin of Guadalupe.

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Dec 10 2010

El Salvador celebrates feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe

This report was prepared by Yessenia Alfaro, the project coordinator for Santa Ana, El Salvador.

The feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Dec. 12) is celebrated in El Salvador in many churches that carry her name.

The main celebration is in the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Santa Tecla, La Libertad. It is a celebration in which thousands from different parts of El Salvador and other countries participate.

Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Worshippers attend the serenade to the Virgin inside the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. According to legend, in 1950 the Virgin appeared in a ceiba tree. The place is known as the Shrine of the Ceiba of Guadalupe, and the most solemn celebrations take place in this church.

Kinberly and Irvin

Kinberly and her cousin, Irvin, are dressed in indigenous clothing during the celebrations of the feast day. Irvin is dressed as Juan Diego.

This celebration is in commemoration of the apparition of the dark-skinned Virgin to Juan Diego, an indigenous person from Mexico.

Many parents, particularly mothers, dress their young children in indigenous clothing as part of the promises they made to the Virgin for favors or miracles. Others offer sacrifices asking for favors from the mother of God.

Many CFCA sponsored members and some staff members participate in these celebrations.

The celebrations begin on the first days of December with a novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe, nine Masses in honor of the Virgin.

On Dec. 11 the Vigil is celebrated with songs and prayers.

The principal celebration on Dec. 12 begins with a serenade to the Virgin. Before this, there is a procession from a nearby parish to the church where the participants venerate the image of the dark-skinned Virgin.

Sixteen Masses are celebrated in the church on Dec. 11 and 12. For years, families have kept the tradition of visiting the Virgin, travelling from faraway places to participate in the festivities.

Outside the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, vendors congregate selling different religious relics, food and candy, among other things.

This tradition maintains the faith of many people and unites many to share in the same trust, hope and faith that God listens to them and attends to their necessities through his motherís intercession. Many give testimony of miracles received, most about health.

One example of this devotion to the Virgin is the family of Edwin. His mother, Rosa, shared with us how she passed on to her sons and daughters her devotion to the mother of Jesus for more than 20 years.

Her daughters, now mothers of their own families, continue with this tradition.

Today Rosa’s grandchildren are participating in the festivities in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Delmy, Rosaís daughter and a former CFCA sponsored child, dresses her daughter, Kinberly, in indigenous clothing for the celebrations. Kinberly’s cousin, Irvin, also takes part.

When there is sickness or worries, the family members always trust in the protection of the Virgin, and that is why they are always grateful for the blessings they have received.

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