Mexico’s Fiesta De La Candelaria Ends Christmas Season With a Bang

Boaters ride along the Papaloapan River during the annual Virgin de la Candelaria procession in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, on Feb. 2, 2019. RNS photo by Irving Cabrera Torres

TLACOTALPAN, Mexico (RNS) — Each February for more than 100 years, inhabitants of the small town in southern Mexico have honored the Virgin de la Candelaria in a weeklong festival marking the end of the Christmas season.

The Fiesta de la Candelaria — called Candlemas in English-speaking areas of the world — marks the day the baby Jesus was presented in the temple in Jerusalem. In Tlacotalpan, a statue of the Virgin Mary carrying the baby Jesus is brought by boat on the Papaloapan River and paraded through the streets to be presented at the church.

Bulls are thought to have been offered originally by rich locals for slaughter during Virgen de la Candelaria celebrations. Today, young men try to have informal bullfights with the zebu bulls. RNS photo by Irving Cabrera Torres

As she has for more than 100 years, the Virgen de la Candelaria processes through the town of Tlacotalpan, in southern Mexico, on Feb. 2, 2019. RNS photo by Irving Cabrera Torres

The Virgin of Candelaria is thought to bless the city and its river port, protecting it against floods and granting abundant fishing.

Although it sounds innocuous, the festival has become controversial in recent years due to the town’s practice of releasing bulls during the festivities, an element unique to Tlacotalpan’s candelaria celebrations.

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Source: Religion News Service