Friday, May 16, 2008

Yeni in a Calenda

I have mentioned before that I am wild for Oaxaca's calendas. These are crowded processionals/parties in the streets that might include cellophane lanterns held aloft on sticks and illuminated with candles, people in traditional ceremonial dress, monumental altars of flowers, people tossing candy from painted gourd bowls, a brass band, firecrackers, a bull fight with a pretend bull, and dancing. Somewhere I read that calendas historically were used to entice people to attend Catholic mass, with the processional leading to the church. My baby girl Genevieve was invited to be in the city-wide preschooler Calenda, thankfully not for religious purposes, but to announce the children's dance festival. A dear friend lent me the appropriate garb for Jenny. It was a beautifully embroidered blouse and bright orange skirt.

This was one jam-packed Calenda. In the picture below, you can see a lantern with colored cellophane. Max got to hold the gourd and passed the time tossing candy to onlookers. He took his job very seriously.

Calendas often have giant papier-mache puppets. The inside is hollow and people place it over their heads and shoulders and carry the whole thing for the event. I believe these are the same figures that Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo collected that are on display at the Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City. They call them Judas figures, and fill them with firecrackers, setting them off around Semana Santa.

It was a beautiful event and such an honor to be included in one of Oaxaca's most vivid folk traditions.

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