The look of the day – February 2, 2022

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The Mexican town of Xochimilco celebrates its Child God in moderation: the Niñopa

Mexico City, Feb 2 (EFE) .- A wooden Child God with centuries of history, the Niñopa, is one of the greatest prides of the town of Xochimilco, in the south of Mexico City, and thousands of people gather every February 2 to witness the figure’s change of home, although this year there was a measured celebration due to the still latent pandemic. Mexico celebrates Candlemas Day every February 2, which marks the end of the Christmas celebrations, during which families cook tamales (corn-based food with various fillings) and bring out their Niño Dios. But the Niñopa is a very special figure, because although the exact date of its creation is unknown, it is estimated that it was at the end of the 16th century or the beginning of the 17th, according to studies by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) of Mexico, as shared with Efe Araceli Peralta, Xochimilco chronicler and researcher at that institution. In addition, it is likely that it was carved in the Franciscan convent of San Bernardino de Siena, located in the center of Xochimilco, where this Wednesday and every year in the temple with the same name a mass is celebrated for the transfer of what is known as stewardship, that is, the Child of God passes from one family to another, who will now take care of him as if he were a baby and will receive whoever wants to visit him at home. “I feel very happy and honored to see the love that people have for him. (…) We must follow the traditions but above all seek a friendly dialogue with God, leave the material, and transform it into actions of faith, hope and charity,” Gerardo Rubí told several media outlets. The figure was brought to the home of the Rubí Olivares family from the San Bernardino Cathedral, where around 300 people -many of whom also carried their own Niño Dios- received the previous butlers and celebrated the transfer of the child between music band, and shouts of “Viva el Niñopa!”. Every year a family is fortunate to welcome the figure into their home, after spending years – even decades – on a waiting list. In the case of the Rubi Olivares family, in 1985 the father of the family registered and became butler in 1991. WITH FOUND FEELINGS This would have been his second stewardship but he died three months ago due to covid-19, so for the family receiving Niñopa is a “mixture of emotions,” shared Gerardo. “For me they are mixed feelings, because everything reminds me of something he was saying and preparing. We tried to make everything as similar as possible to what he thought,” he said. In addition, the celebration of Candlemas Day in 2022 was the return of the Niñopa to the temple and to the streets after the celebrations were canceled in 2021 due to the high level of contagion that Mexico was experiencing. Some confessed to feeling somewhat disappointed at the return because, due to the measures by covid-19, there were no dancers nor was the traditional food of these dates that the butlers usually share. However, most of the attendees – much less than other years – were happy to be able to see Niñopa again and ask him for his family and close friends, especially in matters related to health. María Yolanda Martínez is 80 years old and for a long time she has traveled through much of the city to visit this special Niño Dios. On this occasion he asked “for this pandemic to be over” but he also asked for his sister, who suffers from cancer, and “for everyone” “In general, as it is, I ask for everyone for all families. (…) I’m already asking for everyone: alcoholics, drug addicts, street people or those who don’t have a job,” he shared with Efe after leaving to see Niñopa. With this bittersweet feeling, the devotees are already waiting for February 2, 2023, when they wish to be able to celebrate the Niñopa, as in previous years and without restrictions, a figure that reflects the syncretism of Mexican traditions. This is because, beyond the Catholic references derived from the arrival of the Spaniards on Mexican soil in the 16th century, the pre-Hispanic and Mesoamerican agricultural calendar indicates that on these dates the seeds were blessed in many native peoples and the beginning of the sowing. “Continuity with the Niñopa has been given to pre-Hispanic rituals that have to do with the land,” concluded the chronicler Araceli Peralta. (c) EFE Agency

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The look of the day – February 2, 2022