Timing the Holidays with Yoda
There are a multiple of ways to time the approach of upcoming holiday season each with pros and cons.
For many the season is called Lupita Reyes, encompassing the time from the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Lupita) to Three Kings’s Day (Reyes). Easy for me to recall as my favorite dance student is, in fact, Lupita Reyes. This time starts with feast of the Mexican image of Mary, includes posadas (telling of the story of Joseph and Mary looking for room at the inn), pastorelas (holiday plays), Christmas day itself and ends with the Kings bringing gifts to both Jesus and local children.
For many Catholics the holiday season is Advent (Latin for before Lent) marking the four Sundays one has to prepare for Christ’s arrival. Advent begins each year on the Sunday closest to November 30th, which is the feast day of Saint Andrew the Apostle and modeled after Lent, or days preparing for the big event (Easter or Christmas).
This year Advent starts on December 2nd and is marked both in churches and in homes by an Advent wreath. The wreath is a circle representing eternity with three purple and one pink candle. The candles are lit each Sunday with the pink one being the third Sunday. As a kid lighting the third candle was simply very exciting as Christmas gifts were right around the corner.
Advent is also represented by Advent Calendars that traditionally run from the first of December through the 25th. As a kid, I opened a window each day on a paper calendar featuring a pretty nativity picture. By the time my kids arrived Advent Calendars were opened daily to reveal a piece of chocolate or Lego piece to form a square nativity set and/or Star Wars battle.
For those with a more encompassing view of the holiday season it begins the Sunday after US Thanksgiving. This Sunday is for Christo Rey (Christ the King) marked by local pilgrimages to the image of Christ at death since that his the whole point of his being born, to open eternal life to everyone. Christo Rey Sunday is great fun for local cowboys with games and meals.
Another advantage of this time frame is it includes the feast of Saint Nicholas. St. Nicholas was the inspiration for Santa Claus whom, with his nefarious sidekick (the Krampus, Black Pete, he has many names) insures wild children are well behaved during the holiday season or else suffering dire consequences.
Then, instead of ending on January 6th, Three Kings’ Day, the season extends to Candelaria, February 2nd. Honestly, not much happens between January 6th and February 2nd, but lost time is made up for on the second. Candelaria is when Europeans had mass by candlelight (hence the name) to dispel the darkness of winter. Farther south here it marks the start of Spring and when a Jewish lass like Mary could return to Temple forty days following birth, marking the first time Jesus went to church.
On Three Kings’ Day whoever got the bread with the small, plastic Baby Jesus in his or her slice (he was hiding from King Herod) sponsors the party for Candelaria. It’s a great way to end the holiday season and an excuse to leave brightly colored lights up all of January, which can be a dreary month.
Opting to get a definite answer on just when the holiday season begins and ends I consulted my dog, a Three Kings’ Day gift 11 years ago and consequently named Jasper/Gaspar for one of the kings. He prefers a longer holiday season (more cookies) and feels Advent ending on Christmas is just plain silly talk likely started by cats. The Three Kings are all that matter to him!