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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Comes to Cuenca

I'm not quite sure how we missed it last year, but apparently the 22nd of December is when the Christ Child arrives in Cuenca. It seems that stores, neighbourhoods and towns outside of the city plan a manger recital as part of a competition. Most include Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus (sometimes a doll baby; sometimes a real one) plus many angels, shepherds and the Wise Men. Many displays also include additions not found in the Bible, like snowmen, elves, Santas and other more commercial Christmas symbols.
The Magi arrive

Note the donkey in a box (bottom right)
I think she was making the body from cardboard and newspaper.

For those of you who wonder how Christ disappeared from Christmas, come down to Ecuador one year and bolster your spirits. The Christian (mostly Catholic) spirit is alive and well.

Warm, but ungainly!

Petulent elves, fake sheep and dog dressed as Santa

"Christmas" trees around the fountain
What we enjoy the most is the participation of all ages; families, friends, co-workers coming together to celebrate an important time. Most of the costumes and sets are hand made from items found around the house. (Large plastic shopping bags converted into capes and dresses, CDs used for "bling" in stars or gowns, moving tape is heavily featured in the creation of seams for clothes, keeping on animal ears attached to hair bands, and the lowly plastic pop bottle cut to resemble stars, flowers and decorative candle holders) It's all haphazard, despite much planning, I'm sure, at least on the part of the participants, and that makes it all the more charming. There's little pretense here and everything is done in the spirit of fun, coloured with sense of reverence and that, as has been said often, it priceless.

While the weather makes it hard to believe that Christmas is only two days away, the spirit of Christmas is building quietly. (Abetted by creepy doll commercials, on TV. The dolls have hard plastic faces, but can do all manner of things; crawl, stand up, talk, somersault etc. To be honest, they kind of freak me out.) I'll assuage myself with El Pase del Nino Viajero, tomorrow. Nothing like an all day parade to buoy the spirits. Hope this also lifts you up!

With Christmas so fast upon us, let us wish you the very best of the season, however you celebrate. May the light of hope shine brightly on you and yours and may we learn to accept each other with respect, dignity and, above all else, peace.

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