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Kristin in Nicaragua

La Purísima

La Purísima

Nicaragua is filled with the sights, sounds, and flavors of the holidays, especially the altars and displays dedicated to the Virgin Mary during these days of the Novena and Purísima - the celebration of all things related to the "immaculate conception". Of course I’m not a religious scholar, but these popular catholic traditions are fascinating - in this case, "marianismo" and the veneration of mary as the symbol of faith, dedication, purity, devotion, and christianity. The Purísima is celebrated largely in private homes, as families and close friends join together to sing and pray in honor of Mary; often the celebration is made as a "promesa", a promise to Mary in exchange for some act of faith - e.g. healing a sick child, helping a family member in need, etc. In the case of the family where I shared in a Purísima celebration Monday night (invited by one of the families in my study), the tradition has been fulfilled every one of the past 25 years, since the birth of an ill child and a promise made by a grandmother that if the child lived, the family would always pray to Mary during the novenario. Usually such celebrations are accompanied by gifts of food and candy; however, the family I shared with on Monday explained that because of the "crisis" economic difficulties made their celebration this year particularly meager. Along with the other guests, I still enjoyed a full plate of "chop suey" (a multicultural delight mainly reserved for special occasions) and refresco de cacao. Pictured is their altar with a Mary that has been in the family for four generations. La Purísima began November 28 and ends December 7 with "La Gritería" - when most families will move their alters from their living rooms to the sidewalk and the public (sometimes drunken) display of devotion to Mary will culminate with a huge fiesta, as everyone takes to the streets to shout "¿Quien Causa Tanta Alegría? La Concepción de Maria!" (Who causes so much happiness? The conception of Mary!). Most businesses will close on the 7th at 4pm; and Dec. 8th will be a national holiday for many...

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1 comentario

Nicamer -

It is true that many Catholics, especially among women, have an undying love and loyalty to the Virgin Mary. My mom, for example, dedicates most of her prayers to the Virgin Mary (vs. God himself, I guess.)
I, myself, love the Virgin Mary. She is a symbol of femininity, strength, and love.
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