The poinsettias ─ hundreds! ─ were planted in the Zocalo a few days ago. This day / this night is Noche de Rabanos (Night of the Radishes) ─ an exhibition in the Zocalo of amazing figures sculpted from radishes. Now I know Christmas is coming.
There are signs subtler than radishes. This morning the Sanchez Pascuas market was bustling more than usual. As I passed through after a hike in the cerro del Fortin, I saw a young man consulting a long list I imagined his Madre or Tia or Abuela had made to prepare for Noche Buena. There were small wooden mangers for sale and I understood that the moss I’d seen for sale in the market earlier is to make the mangers comfortable for the baby’s birth. The churches are dressed up with flowers and greens. And, I’ve noticed ─ in homage to globalization ─ strings of Christmas lights on some houses, a Toyota decked out with reindeer antlers, niños posing for photos with Santa.
Shops and restaurants are closing early tomorrow. Christmas Eve is the big event here, not Christmas Day. Families pray at home or go to church in the evening, and have a special meal around 11:00 pm or midnight. I’ve been invited to Soledad’s house for Christmas Eve, but I don’t know if I can get a taxi back to my apartment at 1 or 2 am. She’s invited me also for Christmas Day breakfast; that may be a little easier. Amid the hustle and bustle, hope is in the air. We are waiting. The child comes!