The procession of Mary and Joseph in Misantla

By José Alberto Gaytán García*

Days ago, at lunch time, I left the technological heading home. Right at the intersection of the streets Salinas de Gortari and Miguel Hidalgo, across from the football field known as “Plan de la Vieja”, I found a group of about fifteen people who were part of a Christmas procession. In front was a girl riding on a donkey playing the role of the Virgin Mary, next, the donkey was led by a child playing the role of Joseph, husband of Mary in the Christian tradition, with them were two other children holding images of both characters. The children were followed by a group of people that joined the procession. In Christian tradition, Mary, a woman of Jewish origin, known as the “Mother of God” or “Mother of Jesus” and Joseph of Nazareth, a young man dedicated to the noble craft of carpentry, lived at the end of the first century BC, in the historic city of Galilee, north of Israel, facing the scene caught my attention.

I stayed a few minutes taking pictures with my cell and admiring the seriousness of the children and the respect they were showing towards the characters they played. The same must be said of the entourage that accompanied “Mary and Joseph”. I approached the group and asked a few neighbors about the procession. They explained that it was a pilgrimage that went to the chapel of “Plan de la Vieja” and that the residents of that place had been doing these religious activities for forty years. Then I called the technological and I asked Agustin Virgin to send someone to take some photos of better quality. I explained to Agustin that it was worth preserving some good photos of children who were leading the procession, so they sent Mr. Erik Balderas, who knows the subject of photography and multimedia technology.

The procession of Mary and Joseph in Misantla

The girl who played the lead role is called Reina Itzel Miranda Reyes. She is eleven years old. The child Pablo Angel Alejandro Reyes is ten years old. The girl’s mother’s name is Julisa Isabel Reyes Contreras; all the residents of Salinas de Gortari neighborhood. The donkey was borrowed from a man named Victor Ramirez, a friend of the Reyes family.

The procession of Mary and Joseph in Misantla

On many occasions I have been lucky enough to see on any street, neighborhood or corner of the city, a procession or representation of biblical passages or of any religious or cultural episode, as beautiful and innocent as the procession of “Mary and Joseph” cited above. I mention this because maybe for many people these things look normal and even go unnoticed, but for those who come from other cities, including myself, for work reasons and have seen the need to live in ten different cities, in no way can see such activities as normal customs of the people here. On the contrary, but beyond that, these cultural and religious expressions portray in many ways, innocence, charm and beauty of the city; yes friends let me explain myself better. First, it is unlikely that in the XXI century, the so-called era of technology and knowledge, one finds magical and peaceful cities like Misantla. In fact, today, the majority of the inhabitants of the world are too busy participating in social activities linked to the Internet, Facebook, or any other technological tool called social networks. They spend their time there, immersed in these “electronic processions of hundreds and thousands of followers”. The citizens of the world, mainly children and young people, unsupervised and at total risk, forge friendships, applications, preferences, make decisions and acquire habits of all kinds. Well they even have a weird name. They are called “cybernetics/ surfers” or “net users” and at the speed that the world is changing, soon, we will no longer be “misantecos”, “panuquenses” or “jarochos”. No, we will now be “cybernetics/surfers” of some of the thousands of “colonies or digital neighborhoods” that are integrated daily to the powerful global village web, and see if not is powerful; every four seconds someone somewhere in the world is connected to the Internet and monthly one billion people use Facebook.

For that overwhelming reason, there are few cities with customs of innocence, charm and beauty as Misantla, where people respectfully contribute their time, include their children and join small friendship networks to promote family values. By the way, these cultural and religious representations are true windows to admire the magic of the past, that’s why I said that Misantla is a city with magic.

I also mention that in other parts of the world where the scale of moral values has painfully fallen to the ground, children from the age of “Mary and Joseph” are huge offenders or soon will be under the influence of bad environment and lacking in values where they are formed. Therefore we must recognize and care for the space of innocence that has our city and a right way to do so is to support all these activities and customs, together, all means all, municipality, Government, Federal Government, legislators, Misantla, society, etc. The following statistical fact may help to better explain this comment. According to the last census of population and housing 2010 (INEGI), between 20 and 25 thousand people under fourteen years of age live in the town of Misantla, in other words more than a third of its population of 65,000 inhabitants are not fifteen years of age. This means that we have many young people and therefore we must worry about them. However, in Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy, only thirteen percent of the population is under the age 14, most are older people.

In this time of thought and good wishes, we need a permanent public program that recovers and encourage cultural and religious expressions. It would be a good Christmas and New Year resolution for our city; particularly, it would be a good gift to be able to teach values to our children, teenagers and for anyone that lives in this quiet and beautiful city, which will soon be celebrating one more year of life. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

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José Alberto Gaytan
José Alberto Gaytan
José Alberto Gaytán García ha escrito artículos y ensayos de corte académico en diarios y revistas de México y de los Estados Unidos; ha participado en importantes proyectos académicos e impartido conferencias sobre temas de historia, tecnología y educación en el marco de las relaciones entre México y los Estados Unidos, tema en el cual realizó sus estudios de doctorado en The Graduate School of Internacional Studies de la Universidad de Miami.

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