First Communion in Teotitlan del Valle

Yesterday, brothers Willibaldo and Eligio Bazan Ruiz celebrated their First Communion in the village of Teotitlan del Valle.  They are the sons of weaver Eligio Bazan Ruiz and Josefina Ruiz Vazquez who I wrote about earlier this week.  It is Josefina and her mother-in-law Magdalena who started Las Granadas Bed and Breakfast after we were the “first experiment.”

Here are the photos that my friend Roberta Christie took of the event. You will see the girl celebrants dressed in white, representing their purity.  The priest is based in the neighboring village of Tlacochahuaya and serves many of the surrounding community parishes.  The mass began at 8 a.m. barely after the sun began to warm the winter air.  This year there were over 100 celebrants.

As with all Teotitlan celebrations/fiestas, everything starts and ends with family and food.   The day before, Josefina and her sisters, cousins and mother began to prepare for two big meals (breakfast and comida) that would be shared after the communion with family, friends and godparents and B&B guests.  I can just imagine Magda at the comal making her delicious homemade tortillas.

In the photos and the video to follow, you will see the mounds of cooked goat meat that will be served as caldo (soup) and later in large 12-14″ tortillas.

Roberta captured the scenes of the ceremony in the square of the village church and the family greeting Willibaldo’s padrinos (sponsors) in their home altar room where all family milestones take place.  You’ll see the ritual of offering gifts first to God and then to the family.  Traditional gifts include a case of beer or a bottle of mescal, loaves of bread to be served with delicious hot chocolate or mole negro.  This tradition likely carries over from the time when tribute was paid to the Aztecs and local chieftains with atole, chocolate and maize.

Here is the video shot by Art Mayers that captures the preparations and the communion ceremony.  The languages you hear spoken are Zapotec and Spanish.

More about First Communion in Teotitlan del Valle:  Roberta observes that this celebration signifies confirming one’s faith and acceptance of the church doctrine.  She reports that Willi and Eligio both made their first confessions a week or so before the First Communion ceremony, and were pretty nervous in the days approaching the big event.  Typically, children age 12 or 13 participate in First Communion but it can happen any time.  Roberta noted that there was one adult participant at the ceremony.  One must reach the age of reason, whenever one becomes accountable for one’s sins, according to some.  One takes First Communion when one is ready to accept being part of a Christian faith community as an adult capable of reason and able to distinguish between “good and and bad” behavior.

Roberta adds that the padrinos or godparents, who are good friends or relatives and “sponsors” of the celebration, are present in the altar room with the family. They will be the ones “responsible” for the boys continuing practice as Catholics.  First everyone offers a toast and blessings to God at the family altar, with the male head of household presiding.  Because the boys’ father Eligio is deceased, their Grandfather Nesefaro stepped in to do the honors, along with mom, two grandmothers, aunts and uncles.  Then, everyone will gather around the large family dining room table that can seat twelve to sixteen people, pass the beverages, make toasts, and eat a hearty meal of spicy goat soup soaked up by Magda’s fresh tortillas.

For more information, use this link about Las Granadas Bed and Breakfast in Teotitlan del Valle.

Thanks to Roberta Christie and Art Mayers for photography and video, and to Roberta for adding her experience and editing to this post.

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