Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fiestas de Taos

Fiestas de Taos is a community celebration honoring the two patron saints of Taos: Santa Ana and Santiago. The annual event, popularly referred to as “The Taos Fiestas,” invites the local population to put aside their labor for two days and bask in the leisure of the holy days.

The first day is dedicated to Santiago, who is the patron saint of Spain. Santiago is a contraction of Saint Yago, the Spanish words for St. James, and in his lifetime, Santiago was known as James. On the first fiesta day, men used to ride on horseback through the plaza in their finest livery, “encatrinados,” as they were called in their fancy attire.

James and his brother, John, were mending their nets one day on the shores of Lake Genesaret, when they were called by Jesus of Nazareth to be fishers of men. The Acts of the Apostles says that he was the first of the apostles to suffer a martyr’s death for his faith. Popular tradition holds that James had preached in northwestern Spain when the area was still known as Galicia. It was to this area that the body of the Apostle of Spain was returned by two of the nine converts he had made in the area, Theodorus and Athanasius.

Later, a vision of Santiago was seen in battle between the Spanish and the Moors, who had occupied Spain for hundreds of years. The cry of “Santiago Matamoros!” (St. James Slayer of Moors!) was to be heard in Spain for centuries afterwards.

Santa Ana, or St. Anne, was the mother of The Virgin Mary, and the grandmother of Jesus Christ. She was born to wealthy parents, who gave a third of their yearly income to the temple, a third to charity, and lived off the last third. Even in so doing, their flocks and holdings continued to multiply at their beautiful country estate in Sephoris, near Nazareth. St. Anne is considered a model of virtue. The Angel Gabriel himself brought St. Anne together with her husband, Joaquim, a pious middle-aged bachelor who was seeking divine help in finding a wife.

The couple had endured much suffering for 20 years as they remained childless, when the Angel Gabriel came to Anne again to declare that God had chosen to give them time to prepare for a child who was much more than they asked for: and now the time had come for them to bring forth a daughter to be named Mary. Anne was told that Mary was destined to be the mother of the Messiah, and to keep that a much-guarded secret.

The second day of The Taos Fiestas is always dedicated to St. Anne. On this day women historically rode in horse-drawn carriages. Mothers and older sisters hold tightly to the hands of the children and everybody marvels at the mystery of St. Anne, who is the perfect example of motherhood.

So, Viva Fiestas de Taos!

No comments:

Post a Comment