By Barbara Falconer Newhall
If you wanted a Santa-Clausy Christmas this year, complete with tinsel, elves, Frosty the Snowman, and abundant gift-buying opportunities, Santa Claus, Indiana, might have been your destination of choice.
But if it was the Baby Jesus you were looking for, Mexico’s old colonial town of San Miguel de Allende was the place to be.
Each year, in the days and weeks before Christmas, creches appear all over San Miguel. You see the Star of Bethlehem, the angels, Joseph and the Virgin Mary. You see posadas — with parades of children following the Holy Family from house to house in search of a place to spend the night.
But it’s not until Christmas Eve that the Christ Child actually makes an appearance. And when he does, you can’t miss him. He’s in the streets, in the churches, and in the Jardin at the center of town.
Local folks pour out of their homes bearing their beautiful Christ Child dolls to be blessed at the local church and prayed over in makeshift creches set up by neighbors on the city’s centuries-old cobblestone streets. Check out my murky but touching video of neighbors singing a lullaby to the Baby Jesus.
Kiss a neighbor’s Baby Jesus doll and you are invited to take a sweet from the Christ Child’s bed of candy.
And then at midnight on Christmas Eve all over town, the beautiful, life-sized Jesus dolls are placed in creches in churches, parks and homes.
The Christ Child has arrived at last.
But Christmas isn’t over on Christmas in Mexico. On January 6, Epiphany, the Wise Men will arrive — and so will gifts for the children.
Can Christmas be Christmas without the kids? Read about it at “We’re Having a Merry Christmas Without the Kids This Year.” More travel stories at “Austin: A City That Wears Its Soul on Its Sleeve” and “A Dune on Lake Michigan.”