"The Assumption is important to many Catholics as the Virgin Mary's heavenly birthday (the day that Mary was received into Heaven). Her acceptance into the glory of Heaven is seen by them as the symbol of the promise made by Jesus to all enduring Christians that they too will be received into paradise."
Now, not being a Catholic, or actually ascribing to any formal religious beliefs, I must say I none the less attended Mary's symbolic rise to heaven last night. I was there to bid her farewell and godspeed for another full year.
It has been 15 days of festivities leading up to last nights celebrations:
There have been daily processions/parades, preceeded by and followed by the firecracker lighters
non-stop mass services,
quepie dolls carnival style toys,
festival style food; the favorite of which are the cut up and quartered halfway down chunks of hot dog that are deep fried and turn into hotdog rosettes laying atop a bed of french fries and garnished with the ubiquitous and very popular lime and chili, marquesitas which are a thin sweet batter, cooked on a flat double-side comal over fire till the batter is a thin pliable sheet, which is then sprinkled liberally with shredded gouda or edam cheese, rolled up tight and served with a napkin around one end so you start eating from the other end till you get to the end, oh when will this ever end.
there have been firecrackers,
there have been bands,
there have been toritos, which are wooden forms built to hold as many as possible firecrackers, sparklers, and fireworks that explode from the form and corkscrew out into the crowd, strapped to a bull form and hoisted above the heads of several runners. These guys careen willy nilly through the crowd
there have been the burning of paper balloons to symbolize Mary's asuncion and delivery to heaven,
oh and there have been firecrackers, have I mentioned firecrackers, that sound like m-80's, which start sometimes as early as 4 in the morning (today they blissfully held off til 6) and stop sometime shortly after midnight.
OK - so where was I going with this, oh yes, last night.
Well we had a few friends over for drinks to be followed by our own procession up to the church and park. At about 8:30 we heard the first firecrackers go off which let us know that Mary was out and about. So off we go, Mary's quick, we're only a half block away and Mary had already made the turn at our corner so if we wanted to catch a glimpse we were going to have to hustle. Mary makes a quick trip around the block, out of the Church, down the steps turn right around the block up the steps and back to her resting place in San Sebastian church.
We managed to catch up and keep up with Mary, greeting a few friends and neighbors along the way. We tried to get close enough to the church to see her inside, but the crowd was thick and way to tight and pushy for my comfort level, beside my desire was purely curiosity, not driven by religious zeal. After Mary was in place, some prostelitizing occurred I think you have to be catholic to understand what any of it means, so we decided to head down to the athletic field next to the church to await the toritto and balloon lighting. We stroll - some marquesitas are purchased, firecrackers are going off everywhere and we ponder and discuss a possible vantage point. The stadium and atheletic field at this point are open. We select a spot outside the atheltic field on a corner, with tree cover, next to a cement wall, and just a few meters from the street. The volume of the fircrackers, and fireworks have increased in both frequency and loudness, and apparently it is met with great relish and raucous screams of delight for a rocket to come screaming in to the crowd, and the rocket lighters did not want to disappoint. Soon, ok, not so soon, after about an hour of standing there with bombs bursting everywhere the lights in the stadium go off, OK, now we're getting somewhere. Apparently that's the signal because now the atheleic field is filling up, moms, dads, babies, youngsters, grannies, the field is packed, more firecrackers and rockets, and oh how they love it when one misfires and careens into the crowd. Are we having Fun or What?
So another hour passes, we chat, we shuffle about, we greet friends and neighbors as they pass. We're starting to wonder is it worth it, we talk about the bar items back at the house...
another 15 mnutes and then a roar and screams of delight and everyone outside the atheletic field suddenly push up towards the fence to see the action, more people go racing onto the field; the first torito is making his run, spitting fire, burning ash, and spiraling rockets into the super charged crowds, the crowds follow, taunt, part, and close in, they chase, they want to be chased, the woman in front of us with her 2 year oldish child suddenly is smacking at her head, she smells her fingers, fiery ash has fallen and is smoldering in her hair; is this fun or what!!!!!
The din dies down, suddenly it creschendos again, and bigger bull goes charging through the crowd - WOW! By now it's about 11. I am hiding behind the cement wall, those willy nilly rockets are screaming in our direction, I'm done, it's too much for me. I'm tired, my feet hurt, my back aches, I've consumed a litre of limonada and really need to go, I've been averaging 4-5 hours of sleep a night, and I don't want a badge of glory like some big burn scar anywhere on my person. Maybe next year I'll see the balloons.
I took a few photos, they are not good, I'm not setup with my little point and shoot digital for this type of work, but here they are!
This fireworks display was on the atheletic field fence and was lighted as Mary passed