Oaxaca is full of celebrations. However, on Christmas Eve, I participated in the parade and party with the most clearly displayed plot. Hundreds of people participated in the reenactment of the posada experience and the story of the birth of Christ and the arrival of the kings.
There are so many things to be said about the procession for the Nochebuena in Oaxaca. First, yes, Virginia, there are Santa Clauses, but they are not the focus of the celebration (you can take a picture with them off to the side for 35-40 pesos). Second, the children are the stars of the captivating procession that celebrates the birth of Jesus. For the first few trips around the Zocalo on floats and on foot, they represent Mary and Joseph and angels finding the way to the birthplace. Then, Jesus is heralded as the Savior, and his image is present. (Also, many people on the Zocalo carry dolls that represent Jesus). Next, the kings arrive with gifts, also children. Finally, everyone sings “Silent Night.”
Over and over, I have heard people explain that they came to Oaxaca to escape the madness that can accompany Christmas, but, without exception, they report finding a deeper appreciation for the true meaning of the holiday.
Heading home after the parade, we got a couple of sparklers and drew bright circles in the night sky.