San Miguel de Allende is a wonderfully festive town celebrating saints, independence days, Catholic holidays, and many other events.
My last trip to this magical town was planned around Palm Sunday. What a thrill to witness the events marking the beginning of Holy Week in this spiritual place.
Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores is a unique day not widely celebrated in México.
Certain towns are better than others for specific celebrations. For example, Oaxaca is supposed to be one of the better locations to experience Día de los Muertos. San Miguel celebrates Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores, Our Lady of Sorrows, the Friday before Palm Sunday. Not all of México celebrates this day so we were fortunate to experience this unique event.
People set up altars in their homes during the day on Friday. That night townspeople walk the streets to view them. The family passes out paletas (popsicles) representing the tears of Mary. The experience was very moving for many reasons. First, focusing on Mary and how she must have suffered was very emotional. Second, seeing the beautiful decorations and the many hours spent creating them was moving. Third, experiencing the generosity of the faithful people giving out one hundred or more paletas to strangers was inspiring. It was like a dream as the next morning all the homes were back to normal without a trace of what occurred the night before.
The following day Saturday, a tiny inkling appeared of what was to come the following day. A few palm decorations were put up on house fronts. The street where the procession takes place requires residents to decorate their homes. Tall palms would arch around a door or window. Paper flowers and ribbons might be added for further appeal. Bunches and bunches of camomile were picked and then spread over the cobblestone road. The reason for this I was told was simply for the aroma that would be released from people walking over it.
Mexican artisans have a way of elevating humble materials into precious creations.
The Parroquia was surrounded with artists and their creations for sale. Many were of fresh palms woven into flowers or crosses or intricate Madonnas or crucifixes. Being hopelessly seduced by glitter, I was drawn to the dried straw varieties. They were wonderfully embellished with ribbon, pictures of Mary, flowers, and sparkles. Each one was so beautiful. I wanted to buy them all to support the artists. One of my favorites was Jesus on a dried branch with glitter adorning the end of each twig. They were too fragile to make it home unfortunately.
Viewing the faith of the processors was as moving as attending mass.
People lined the streets waving their newly purchased palm or straw creations. We awaited the procession not knowing what to expect. Finally the faithful arrived in droves. Group after group walked down the route headed towards the Parroquia. They were of all ages. Younger ones helped the few elderly manage the difficult cobblestones. There was singing, chanting, guitar playing, and faces of faith. Many wore red and white, the color of happiness. Towards the end of the procession was a statue of Jesus riding a donkey lifted high above the men’s shoulders. All hoped to make their way into the church for mass although it wouldn’t have been possible to fit so many inside.
That Palm Sunday will remain in my mind for years to come.The day is always a special time for Catholics regardless of where it is spent. Experiencing it outside of México however will be a little less colorful.
Casa V Interiors will happily bring spiritual beauty to your home.