jueves, 10 de diciembre de 2009

La Purísima

Last week I enjoyed yet another new cultural experience: a week long celebration of the Virgin Mary, La Purísima (The Most Pure). A uniquely Nica tradition, and rooted in catholic ideology, La Purísima ironically has a funky, halloween-like energy.
During the days leading up to the Immaculate Conception, Nicas set out statues of the Virgin, creatively decorated and lit up near the front of their homes.
Each evening, devotees of the Virgin crowd into neighbors and strangers' front rooms to admire and sing to the colorfully displayed icons.
After the requisite singing, this is where things get fun: the hosts pass out brindi: homemade goodies, snacks, small toys and prizes, free stuff! I enjoyed traditional foods such as a baked squash with honey, raw sugar cane, and a gingery beverage that I plan on concocting myself.
The final night of the celebration is La Gritería, or The Shouting (are you feeling the halloween vibe now?)
At precisely 6pm all over Nicaragua, fireworks are ignited and people flood the street to shout:
Quién causa tanta alegría?
La Concepción de María!

What is the cause of our happiness?
Mary's Conception!

The joyful noise is to thank Mary for the miracles she performs. A deluge of people, young and old, rich and poor, then parade through town to visit the literally HUNDREDS of altars.
Doors remain open as hordes of people pour in and out, leaving with sacks full of cookies, chips, even house ware items such as laundry soap and matches.
La Purísima is an opportunity for more affluent families to share their wealth and hospitality with others. In many homes, canvas tote bags and satchels were handed out to be filled with brindi!More fireworks and shouting occur at midnight and the following morning at 6am, after which a sacred silence is observed. This is a very holy day in the Catholic church, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Visiting homes, making new friends, and just cruising the streets at night amongst a boisterous crowd made the event for me. Not to mention coming home with all my brindi!

1 comentario:

Elephant's Eye dijo...

Have to come to Nicaragua. Those sweeties have got my name on!