Today, February 2, is the feast of Candlemas -- La Candelaria in Mexico.
Parties are given by finders of the king cake dolls, and families have their images of the Baby Jesus dressed up to be blessed in memory of the Presentation of the Christ Child in the Temple. There will be people passing all over downtown Oaxaca today as they pick up their dressed images. The dressing and repairing of these baby Jesuses is a big industry around here.
Here are a couple of pictures I took just before Epiphany, showing the little statues and some of the clothing for sale:
This is the catalogue page of a business in Los Angeles, California: www.ninodios.com/catalog/album/catalogo.htm (pics not clickable). It shows some of the religiously-oriented outfits, but Niño Dios is also dressed in regional costume, mariachi garb, as a masked wrestler, etc. etc. Because of this variety, my brother refers to this holiday as "Village People Jesus".
I googled Candlemas, and it's fascinating how important this day is and has been around the world. Read the Wikipedia entry: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candlemas, scrolling down to "Relation to Pagan Celebrations" and "Traditions and Superstitions".
There is a lot more to this date than meets the eye!
For any of you not familiar with Mexico Cooks!, you must check it out. It's encyclopedic and totally fun and interesting. Since I love to travel in Mexico, and since each state or region can vary so much from where I live, Mexico Cooks! is one of my pre-trip research stops.
Here I am almost two years later with more on this celebration. I want to be respectful of other people's beliefs, but I find this one so very odd. My brother, bless his witty little heart, calls this "Village People Jesus". So far I've been disappointed in that aspect of it here in Oaxaca, where they stick to dressing these little statues as saints, rather than as masked wrestlers, etc.
I will keep my eyes peeled for outré examples, but this is what I've found so far this year. Incidentally, this manifestation of the Christ child is called a "Niño Dios".
Minding my own business on the way to the car stop, I came upon this group of women presumably confabbing about what to pick & I became transfixed by the costume choices in the windows.
In this picture you can see the little thrones for the babies. Probably all the show window examples aren't on thrones, accounting for their sometimes oddly aggressive postures & the fact that some of us might be making up word balloons for the figures.
Holy Moly! What a fascinating collection of "religious" dolls! Studying them for a moment you soon see the faces are all out of the same mold. The one that tickled my fancy was the surgeon - all prepped and ready to operate ;D
Bixa: What are the gold chairs for? Is one supposed to buy a chair for the doll to sit on - if so I don't think half of them will fit!
Hey ladies -- both of you perfectly captured the confused amazement this custom provokes in me. ;D
Mich, I don't get the doctor thing, but it's extremely common. All of the markets here have a shrine somewhere in them with the saint or manifestation of Christ or the Virgin who watches over the market. My favorite ever is one with a little glass case with a Niño Dios dressed as a doctor. What makes it so special is that they put a cotton ball in his little hand that's upraised in blessing.
Tod, I went back & put the caption for the throne picture in bold. I think I'll start doing that from now on, as I notice captions can get lost in between pictures.
Yes, you're right that the chairs are for the dolls. You can see in the pic that they're different sizes & there are bigger ones available as well. The dolls in the window are that store's manikins, just so people can see the outfits. I imagine the store sells the images as well, but most people have one or more of their own. The places that dress the images usually also specialize in repairing them, as I guess they get chipped or lose fingers over time.
This time of year it's common to see women carrying the plaster babies down the street, on the way to or from having them dressed. I'll be carrying my camera around hoping to snap them.
I'm not touching that interpretation, Bjd! An awful lot of statue dressing does go on here. Graphic images of Christ on the cross, or tied to a pillar to be flogged get dressed in a sort of velvet sarong, often with upholstery fringe on it.
I can't pronounce on the country as a whole, but from my viewpoint as someone raised as an RC, knowledge of tenets or dogma seems to be scanty at best. Although the great majority of people around here will identify themselves as Catholics, there's a fair amount of indifference among that group, but of course some genuinely pious people as well.
The separation of church & state is definitely observed here. Mexicans find it risible that people in the US swear on a bible in court. Also, church marriages are not recognized as real marriages. When the pope visited during the last presidency, Fox sent his wife to greet him, as it was not considered correct for the president of the republic to acknowledge the pope as a head of state.
But enough of that -- I've got more pictures!
I was hotfooting it up the street today, on my way to meet someone in Conzatti Park, when my eye was caught by the little thrones in a glary shop window. Tod needs these! I thought, & proceeded to snap. There was a group of guys at one side of the window where I would have liked to try for pics sans snoitcelfer, but no luck there, so I present these artsy shots instead.
Thanks for these colourful pictures, Bixa. I have enjoyed looking at them. I am thinking that many nationalities dress up and present dolls in different guises. In Japan there is a festival each year on 3rd March called Hinamatsuri (Girls' festival) where dolls are dressed up as the Emperor, Empress and their attendants. I doubt there is anything religious about this festival unless it is allied to Shinto-ism. I shall ask someone about this point.
Then, in China, as well as in Japan, there is a Buddhist festival on the day of the Buddha's birthday (8th April or 8th May depending on the lunar calendar) and, in Japan, called Hana-matsuri (Flower Festival). On this day the baby Buddha is displayed amongst beautiful flowers and it is the custom to pour tea over him whilst showing due reverence.
Furthermore, the Japanese pay reverence to a Bodhisattva called Jizu. I have C & P'd an explanation from the internet ~ Jizô appears in many different forms to alleviate the suffering of the living and the dead. In modern Japan, Jizô is popularly venerated as the guardian of unborn, aborted, miscarried, and stillborn babies (Mizuko Jizô). These roles were not assigned to Jizô in earlier Buddhist traditions from mainland Asia; they are instead modern adaptations unique to Japan. At the same time, Jizô serves his/her customary and traditional roles as patron saint of expectant mothers, women in labor, children, firemen, travelers, pilgrims, and the protector of all beings caught in the six realms of transmigration.
So you will find replicas of babies in Japanese graveyards surrounding the Bodhisattva Jizo.
There is plenty of dressing up idols in Hinduism... I will look into this more or perhaps my friend can comment.
So what I am saying is that the dressing up of replica babies seems to have spread all over the globe.
Those are absolutely fascinating looks at other cultures, Spindrift. I suppose with the Buddha, as with the Christ, the aspect of their human natures is brought home by the fact that they were once babies. It's quite understandable that the sentimental aspect of this alone would grow into a folk form of veneration.
The tea detail is quite odd -- any idea of its significance?
Your mention of the replicas of babies in Japanese graveyards reminded me of photos I've seen. The "babies" are quite stylized, aren't they -- more like rounded posts in the ground? In the photos I've seen, they're often dressed in little caps or wraps.
Oh yes -- the various manifestations of the god spirit in Hinduism and the variations in the manifestations would make a brilliant thread!
Kerouac, why would you suppose they'd be made elsewhere? There's certainly been a tradition of making religious statues throughout the history of the country, & of Christian symbols, both orthodox & specific to Mexico, ever since the Spaniards arrived.
Anyway, my sister & I, both people of rarified artistic sensibilities & with keen eyes for detail, long ago noticed that the better Mexican religious statues had eyelashes. To wit:
That is interesting, Don Cuevas. It prompted me to try to find something on your area. So far all I could find was a calendar listing the 2nd of February thus: Tócuaro: La Candelaria (presentación del niño en el templo): Se bendicen las velas de la Candelaria, destinadas a mitigar las calamidades de la vida e implorar la asistencia de la Madre de Dios en el trance de la muerte. -- also an English-language listing translated from that: 2nd - Tócuaro: La Candelaria (presentation of the child Jesus in the temple): The candles of the great candelabra are blessed, asked to mitigate the calamities of life and implore the attendance of the Mother of God in the critical moment of death.
Erongarícuaro is also listed as celebrating the day, but no details. (Erongarícuaro means "place of waiting" in Purepecha. Maybe you should go hang around there on Feb. 2 & wait to see what happens. ;D
Jiquilpan may have a real fiesta going on with interesting traditional dances, if you want to check on that.
Nothing about any representations of baby Jesus. I also googled 2nd February for Spain, & though the day is celebrated in all kinds of obviously pagan-based ways, there's nothing about little dressed statues.
*snork!* I don't know what the great candelabra is. Thinking about the fact that this date was for general blessing of church candles, though, made me go back to the wikipedia article in #2. There I saw that "According to over eight centuries of tradition, the swaddling clothes that baby Jesus wore during the presentation at the Temple are kept in Dubrovnik Cathedral, Croatia." Bjd, haven't you been there? Surely this will send you scurrying to your picture archive to see if you have pics of the little garments!
Anyway, we'll never know about the great candelabra since Don Cuevas will be basking on a beach instead of poking his camera into obscure corners of Michoacán.
Kimby, you brought up something that's a particular interest of mine. That is, the use of old molds incorporated into contemporary clay work. I'm pretty sure that the head in question is from a mold with that mammoth body grafted on. I have an unpainted clay doll from Ocumicho, Michoacán whose head is very obviously from a mold meant for those antique dolls with porcelain heads, hands, & feet & cloth bodies. The rest of her body, a la the nativity Jesus, is much more rustically formed. That Navidad thread also has a photo of a molded devil which is pretty venerable. Hmm. I just went to look at the Folk Art thread & saw that I haven't posted a pic of my primo molded piece.
pee ess -- re: your comment about the identical pose of the big Nativity baby & the babies meant to be dressed for Candelaria ....... I think the Candelaria babies were originally manger scene babies, in the classic baby-kicking-feet-up pose. Then someone realized they could be made to sit up, thus little thrones, outfits, etc.
That's kind of a shame about the accurate translation, as The Great Candelabra had great potential. I can definitely see Hallmark cards seizing the theme, as well as manufacturers of all kinds of holiday-themed gew gaws.
Speaking of themes, I realized that some of the outfit topics in the 2nd set of pictures resemble those spray cans marked "money house blessing" and the like. There's Treasure Boy and Boy of Dreams, along with Faith and Work. I'm no theologian, but am sure these are not part of church canon.
Well, you'll just have to go back to Dubrovnik now, won't you?! I doubt even divine swaddling clothes would have been flashy, though, & certainly not after a two thousand years.
Candlemas, St. Bridget, crepes, groundhogs AND Happy Birthday APAIS? Too boggling.
Notice it's not a bunch of men clustered around that window. Even I could get a small vestigal kick out of dressing dollies. I can't figure out how to right click on my husband's MacBook to post an image here, but apparently grown US women pay big bucks for lifelike baby dolls, presumably to cuddle and dress.