Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Traditions: The Good, The Bad and The Scary

I can't believe that September is almost coming to an end. I really thought that I would not be able to get through the month, what with birthday parties almost every weekend, getting prepared for the two upcoming trade shows that we will be taking part in (more on this to come) and all the work that had to be done on the business.

I am looking forward to October, it is one of my favourite months because we always head over to my in-laws for Thanksgiving and celebrate the Husband's b-day with them. October is also what I consider the beginning of Fall, all the trees change their colours and begin to loose their leaves, the air is crisp, and everywhere you walk there is a blanket of multicoloured leaves that crinkle under your feet.

I also love Halloween, which is interesting because I did not get to experience Halloween until I was 11 years old when we came to Canada. I remember one year when I was about 8 living in Nicaragua all the parents of the neighborhood that we lived in put together a big Halloween celebration for us. What this entailed what that we could get dressed up and go to certain houses and they would have candy for us. In reality we ended up going to each other's houses to Trick or Treat but it was a great deal of fun and we sure where not going to complain about whom we got candy from. Candy is Candy.

In Nicaragua when I was a child we obviously did not celebrate many of the 'holidays' that are celebrated here. Certainly we don't have Halloween, Thanksgiving, the Easter bunny, and even Valentines' Day. What we do have are Pagan-Christian celebrations and one in particular puts Halloween to shame. Also our celebrations are certainly not PC (politically correct), they can be racist and sexist.

One of the celebrations that I remember with fear and I think is the reason why I sometimes have nightmares of being chased, is a pagan celebration that we have where young people, mostly young guys and kids would paint themselves with black paint or even tar and attempt to paint people black. I can't really remember the purpose behind the festival, I don't really know why they have to paint people black, all I know is that it is quite scary to have a mob of black bodies run after you in order to overtake you and cover you in black paint. What you usually do is stay close to your house and as you see the mob coming you quickly run inside and protect yourself. This is what happened one year when we went with the family to visit friends and took 'part' in the festival. I was terrified. The house that we were are had a balcony on the second floor and we would go out there and watch the people running for cover. Needless to say I never ever took part in this again.

There is one celebration that I absolutely love and miss, it is called 'La Purisima' and it is held in December and it is the day in honour of the Virgin Mary. It is mostly women and children who take part in this celebration, and to children it is like Halloween because we go from door to door and get candy and presents. In reality what happens is that everyone on this day opens up their homes and invites anyone and everyone to come in and sing wonderful, beautiful song to the Virgin Mary. At every house you are given something sweet to eat usually made with rum. After you have sung a few songs you leave and as you leave you get a candy, or a fruit and off you go to the next house. My mother would usually go and sing in a different friend's neighborhood every year, we would go in a big group from house to house with candles, singing and laughing, full of sugar (and rum for the adults). I went to one 'Purisima' here in Canada when we first arrived and it was such a sad affair because it was cold and we could not go out walking and so it was held in a gymnasium where we all just sat around signing in a huge brick box. My mother and I never went again.

This sure has been a long post, it has brought back lost of memories and made me a little homesick. I am a little sadden that Isa will not be able to experience the same wonderful celebrations that I did, the ones that made me feel so full inside. Even today in Nicaragua things are no longer the same. Many traditions and celebrations have gone or changed but new ones have been created as well. I keep telling myself that our family will create new celebrations, take part in new festivals but there are times when I find it hard not to look back.

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