Tomorrow will be our third Purísima in Nicaragua, which means we are currently surrounded by the sounds of fireworks and people walking by in the street, celebrating La Gritería, the big celebration the night before. I blogged about it our first year here, and last year we also mostly observed, walking a lap around the block and taking pictures.
The shrines to Mary in the houses are often quite pretty, and we saw people bringing in fresh branches of flowers and palms this afternoon to set up their altars. This year we decided to take Quinn and Maya out into the fray. They did miss Halloween this year, after all.
We went with Quinn's best friend Oscar, also 5, who lives two doors down, his mother and a group of her friends. A few of them had booklets, which very helpfully contain the lyrics to all the songs that people sing celebrating Mary, so we were able to follow along pretty well most of the time. I think we even got a little better as we went to more houses and sang some of the same songs several times.
It's a very festive time, with everyone out in the streets with friends and/or family carrying bags full of goodies. The houses that have shrines up give out things to the carolers that visits, ranging from toys to fruit to candies to plastic cups and bowls, many of which have a picture of Mary and the call/ response that marks this holiday:
¿Quién causa tanta alegría?
¡La concepción de María!
(Who causes such joy? / The conception of Mary!)
We didn't stay out too long. We went out just as it was getting started, and headed home at the first house where there was a significant line (they form, as the evening wears on, especially at houses that are giving out really good stuff), because both girls were already tired. Even in about an hour, we brought home a pretty good haul.
The girls have been asleep for hours (sleeping through fireworks is something they've gotten very good at living in Nicaragua), and there are still people out and about. There will be a big volley of fireworks at midnight.
Since I actually got to understand some of the lyrics, I was struck by a lovely couplet in one of the songs, calling Mary "Madre de Dios Hijo/ Hija de Dios Padre." It's particularly poetic in Spanish, and it means "Mother of God the Son, Daughter of God the Father." I like the way it highlights both Mary's specialness and commonality with the rest of us.
It was great to get to experience this extremely Nicaraguan holiday with some of our Nicaraguan friends. Another call/ response that people shout at the altars is "¡Maria de Nicaragua!/ ¡Nicaragua de María!" (Nicaragua's Mary!/ Mary's Nicaragua!)