Friday, December 10, 2010
For the whole of this wonderful week, Suchitoto has been given over to preparation for Santa Lucia's day, December 13th. Each of the central town's seven barrios, or neighborhoods, has a day, and ours was today. Korla and I got up when the firecrackers started at 4 AM, got dressed and walked out into a chilly (for El Salvador: the temperature may have gotten down to 65, and everyone but us was wearing caps and sweaters) and dark morning. We sat on the sidewalks drinking coffee and turning our styrofoam coffee cups into candle holders (it's an art) as everyone gathered. At about 5:15, candles were lit, and the whole neighborhood, I think at least 200 of us, joined in a long slow candlelight procession to the church, singing "Santa Lucia, mi corazon," with four women carrying a statue of Santa Lucia. The pastor, Fr. Carlos Elias Echevarria, met us at the church door, told a little of Lucia's story, and invited us in for Mass.
The rest of each neighborhood's day has some special events - for ours, there was a parade of masked characters (mostly children, who do a version of trick or treat) and a children's festival, as well as a special day for seniors, but this senior was away in the city, doing some essential shopping. And in spite of the fact that everyone in the neighborhood was pretty much up and out by 5 AM (no sense trying to sleep through the firecrackers), there was a parade with the neighborhood's float showcasing our candidate for Queen of Suchitoto at 7 PM, fireworks are going on now, and a Noche Ranchero has just started up a couple of streets over. It's a lot of fun, a combination of civic pride, neighborhood togetherness, loud music, fireworks and religion that would not happen many places in the U.S., but is part of the life of every town in El Salvador.