If first impressions are all that important, facing the entrance to the brand new Hacmans restaurant in the even-newer Hotel Amatte (Amatte Wellnest Community) – which has yet to open – is a daunting one: 71 gleaming white stairs leading seemingly up to the sky.
Yes, count them: seventy-one.
Of course, there is a glass-box elevator off to the side, but what’s the fun in that?
One minute a bunch of San Miguel youngsters are rounding the bases and heading for home in a lively baseball game against their parents. Moments later, they are rounding the same bases in single file, carrying a creche on a platform and singing the traditional songs of the Posada.
And shortly after that, the kids were back swinging a bat — only this time at a candy-filled pinata.
A quick trip to San Diego last week included a nighttime visit to the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas which has decked out what seems to be all of its 37 acres with twinkling fairy lights, whirling kaleidoscopes of rainbow colors, washing waves of luminescent greens and reds, and light sculptures — all set against a canvas of bamboo groves, desert agave and palm plants, tropical rainforests, California palm trees, sturdy and ancient trees, Mediterranean bushes, and sub-tropical fruit trees.
There was even a snow-making machine if the light show weren’t enough for you. There was also wine by the glass for Mom & Dad. Pro tip: A night like this calls for a nice strong red with a side snack of kettle corn.
Sometime between Thursday night when I left San Miguel de Allende and Saturday night when I returned, the life-size crèche popped up in the Jardin Principal, just across from Parroquia San Miguel Arc Angel.
Just in time, too. The plaza will be the final stop on the nine-night journey of Joseph and Mary in search of a place to rest and give birth to the baby Jesus, Dec. 16-24. Eight other communities in San Miguel have each, in turn, held a Posada which ends with pageantry, music, gifts, food, pinatas, celebration, and veneration.
Ok, you won’t listen to me or your brother or your doctor. Then try listening to a few icons of Mexican culture, like Che Guevara, Frida Kahlo, and Emiliano Zapata. During 2021, the artist Enrique Díaz has harnessed iconography and linoleum engraving art to deliver the ultimate survival message.
His works — this is only a sampling — is on display in Belles Artes, the recently reopened Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez El Nigromante at Calle del Dr Ignacio Hernandez Macias #75 in Centro.
Monday afternoon, the children are in full-dress on the plaza of Parroquia San Antonio de Padua, in Colonia San Antonio for the traditional Pastorela. They have been rehearsing on the same patio most afternoons. They would sit in a circle and run through their parts with several ladies who show great gentleness, humor, and patience.
The Pastorela pageant recounts the adventures of the shepherds as they head to Bethlehem to worship the newly born baby Jesus on Christmas Day. They face numerous temptations — as you can see, an exuberant band of devils — and in some tellings, it is St. Michael who comes to their rescue. Go, San Miguel!
The Pastorela as a theatrical piece and oral story tradition has been embellished, modernized, changed in tone, and grown as any living, breathing thing — but the essential tale of trials, temptation, salvation, and redemption remains the same.
Another wonderful tradition, Las Posadas, will be celebrated in Mexico on Dec. 16-24 and follows the journey of Jesus and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. On each of the nine nights, the procession heads out to a specific home seeking comfortable lodging for Mary to give birth. Families, children, musicians, singers, and others follow Mary and Joseph each night.
Of course, they are turned away (but rarely without treats and beverages.) When they end up back at the church, the children are given the chance to crack open star-shaped pinatas and scramble for the treats that spill to the ground.
Las Posadas tradition has existed for 440 years in Spain and Mexico.