Chinantla Journal – A Mexican Celebration of Christ and Community

Sam Dillon – New York Times – Thurs 25 Dec, 2008

Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

Celebrating Mass in Chinantla, where Christmas festivities last for days. Hundreds gather for a nightly procession and meal. Image: Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

CHINANTLA, Mexico — Hundreds of villagers strolled through cobbled streets here the other night, bearing candles and small, robed statues of Joseph and Mary, arriving eventually at the home of Eva Vargas de Domínguez, a local matriarch, who invited the throngs into her patio for an evening of prayer and piñatas, fireworks and food.

Aided by a platoon of neighborhood women, Ms. Vargas, a frail-looking widow with stooped shoulders, fed the townspeople 35 gallons of a hearty corn and pork stew and served them hundreds of cups of sweet coffee ladled from simmering vats. Her sons distributed gift bags stuffed with peanuts, fruit and candy.

The Christmas season joins people with their loved ones wherever it is celebrated, but in few places, perhaps, does it unite whole villages so thoroughly in communal rituals of music and merrymaking as in rural Mexico. . .

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