Friday, December 25, 2009

¡Feliz Navidad!

Christmas Eve is the big feast day here, and I spent the day with Peggy and Pat Farrell in El Sitio Cenizero, a village of the Suchitoto municipality where both have long-time friends. The afternoon began with the traditional feast of panes con pollo - here's a photo. The trick is to eat it with your hands and NOT end up with the sauce decorating your clothes. I was partly successful. After that, a nap was necessary, and Mercedes, our hostess, loaned me a hammock where, I suspect, I snored blissfully. Later in the afternoon we sat and talked and listened to Mercedes' granddaughter, Aminta's daughter Lucita play the harp (she's one of ten children taking harp lessons at the Centro Arte para la Paz) while two other granddaughters and Pat joined in Christmas songs. And the conversation rambled happily along (what kind of dress should Paula have for her quinceañera? Not one of the those expensive, flashy ones you'd never wear again... They decided to buy satin and make a dress for her). For me it was a great pleasure that I could follow most of it. We got to watch Mercedes making a farmer's cheese which she served with glorious sausages and beans and tortillas for supper. And we sat and talked some more until it was time to go to church. The celebration began with the conclusion of Las Posadas, sung back and forth between the "innkeepers" inside the church and the singers accompanying the village's Mary and Joseph outside. Finally the doors were opened, and Mary and Joseph and all the rest of us went in. The communion service was led by an El Sitio man and included some Latino Christmas songs I'm getting to know, including one delightful one with this chorus:

Brincan y bailan los peces en el rio / brincan y bailan de ver a Dios nacido
The fish in the river skip and dance, skip and dance to see God born.

Then it was time for the firecrackers to continue (they'd been going on all day) and the dancing to start, and I'm told it went on all night long, but I was tired and headed for my bed for the night at 10:30 instead of joining in. Maybe next time!

Christmas day has been an anticlimax - we came back in the morning and great piles of firecracker paper covered the streets of Suchitoto, so I knew it had been just as noisy here, but the efficient streetsweepers were already tidying up. Church at 10 and then nothing much more going on. It's been a lonely day for me, because Christmas day is always the big day for both my family and the CSJP community, and I'm missing everyone. But it was an honor and a delight to be invited to share in a Salvadoran Christmas. One thing I really noticed: if there were presents, they weren't very big or very visible. This is a poor community in economic terms, but rich in all that matters. They know how to celebrate, how to have a feast.

No comments:

Post a Comment