Thursday, March 3, 2016
My annual "Sisters of the Castor Bean" trip took us to the state of Veracruz this year, located on the eastern seaboard of Mexico, on the Gulf coast. One of the many highlights was visiting the Magic Town (Pueblo Magico) of Xico (HEE-coe). Located in the central part of the state, it is home to a month long celebration in July featuring the festival of Maria Magdalena.
The local church, dedicated to Maria Magdalena, is flanked at the entrance with a beautiful archway of natural flowers and plants, now dried with age. It is made anew every July to grace the entrance where a statue of Maria is carried through town. Our guide informed us that in these daily processions, she wears a different dress every day, and has been doing so since 1898.
The statue that is carried through town is your typical upright, hands-in-prayer mode Virgin Mary, but the statue at the altar was much different and quite surprising. Here we found a lounging Maria Magdalena, as she had a reputation of being a repentant prostitute or loose woman. This was my first experience of a reclining Mary.
Our guide suggested we see if the Dress Museum was open. We had no idea there was such a thing. When we entered the building and saw row upon row of the dresses that Maria has worn over the years, we were awestruck. Of course many of the early ones have gone by the wayside, but we saw many from mid century and of course all of them from recent years. Let's see....31 days in July times 117 years of the festival equals 3,627 dresses. That is one well-dressed ex-prostitute!
All of the dresses were beautifully made and a few were hand-painted. We were so curious as to who the seamstresses were, how they were chosen, etc., but that wasn't included. Regardless, it was an amazing display!
Down the street was the Muso del Danzante Xiqueno. This featured another prominent part of the July festival...the masked clowns and costumes that are dancing through the streets each day.