Dean Letter: Latino Traditions and Festivals

Dear St. Paul’s family,
As you know, we are a multicultural congregation, with a Spanish-language ministry. This fall, there are several holidays and occasions of special significance for our Latino parishioners, and all are welcome and invited to attend.
  • On Saturday, September 14, the diocesan Latino/Hispanic Heritage Celebration will take place at St. Philip’s, Lemon Grove, from 11 am to 5 pm.
  • On Sunday, September 15, at the 1 p.m. Misa, our Spanish-language congregation will observe Independence Day for several Central and South American countries, notably Mexico. The observance includes “El Grito” – a cry of patriotic pain and pride marking the struggle for independence.
  • On Saturday, September 21, the diocesan Multicultural Children’s Fall Festival will take place at St. David’s.
  • On Saturday, November 2 at 6 p.m., we will celebrate El Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which roughly corresponds to All Souls Day, when families remember their departed loved ones and hold special gatherings.
  • On Thursday, December 12, (offsite due to Gala preparation) we celebrate La Virgen de Guadalupe, a manifestation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with special significance for our Mexican neighbors.
  • From December 16 to 23, churches of the diocese will coordinate a progressive version of Las Posadas, visiting a different church each evening, acting out the journey of Mary and Joseph as they sought shelter.  The Cathedral plans to host on December 21, and on Christmas Eve we will complete the Posadas by welcoming the holy family to the “inn” at our family service.

At most of these occasions, a center piece of the celebration is the Piñata, that brightly colored object made from paper and filled with candy that hangs from a rope while children, often blindfolded, swing a bat at it. Eventually someone lands a hard enough hit to break open the piñata, and the candy tumbles out for everyone to grab. To the uneducated, like myself until very recently, the activity can seem like unnecessary violence, an anomaly in the life of the church. But the piñata contains theological significance.
Piñatas can come in many shapes: animals, stars, or even politicians.  However, the traditional Mexican piñata is a three-dimensional container with seven points. Each point represents one of the seven deadly sins, and the candy inside represents the sweetness of grace when the faithful Christian defeats sin. The one struggling to beat sin is blindfolded to represent faith.
I was humbled to learn of this significance: it was a lesson to me to honor the traditions of other cultures. I may have some of the details about the piñata wrong, in which case I hope you will correct me! Let’s continue to learn together about our neighbors and fellow Episcopalians.
Your sister in Christ,

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