Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Friday, January 25, 2019

Dressing Baby Jesus

January 6th, the Day of the Magi Kings (Epiphany), marks the end of the Christmas season.  But technically, the Christmas season in Mexico is not over until February 2nd, the Feast Day of Candelaria (Candlemas).  The day commemorates the presentation of the baby Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem.  Many Mexican families have a doll-like figure of the infant Jesus, "el Niño Dios", which they take to church on that day to be blessed.  But before they take that figure to church, it must be dressed in a brand new outfit.

A while ago... I forget how many trips ago... I came upon a street in the Historic Center of Mexico City, Talavera Street, which was lined with shops selling outfits for the "Niño Dios" doll.  Since it was not anywhere near the feast date, most of the shops were not even open. Since we are approaching Candelaria, I thought that it would be interesting to make a return visit to Talavera Street. 

I went to the main plaza, the Zócalo, and then headed east, an area that is rather scruffy and full of street life.  Many of the streets are filled with vendors.

When I reached Talavera Street, it was much, much more than I had expected.  Not only were all the stores open, but the street was filled with stalls.  In some places it was difficult to make my way through the crowd of people who were there to buy new clothes for their Baby Jesus.  The street market stretched for three blocks and continued on the next street over from Talavera.

The stores were also doing a brisk business.  

The variety of different outfits for the dolls is amazing.

You can even dress the baby as a pediatrician...

or as a surgeon.

When you take your Baby Jesus to church you can set him in a chair...

or in a crib or basket...

or even in a bed or a display case.

You can buy him a pair of wings.

And don't forget a new pair of sandals.

If your doll is broken or in need of a paint touch-up, there are stalls where that can be taken care of.

It was all very fascinating, but I have to admit that to the eyes of this gringo it also seemed quite surreal. 


  1. The display cases are often used by the peregrinos when they make a pilgrimage to various sites. There is a huge pilgrimage going on right now and people from San Miguel take time off to walk hundreds of miles to a site near Guadalajara! They carry their display cases, sometimes with their Baby Jesus or other saints or whoever. Mexicans definitely live their religion. It is humbling to see.

    1. When I told Alejandro about this, he was surprised that there was still such religiosity here in the big city. Even his mother, who was very devout, was not keen on all the images.

  2. This reminded me of our discussion about St. Blaise Day, which the Bohemian Catholic church I attended as a kid celebrated every February 2 (apparently the actual feast date is 2/3, but I always remember it falling on Groundhog Day, which this Wiki confirms is often done since people are already in church on Candlemas: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blessing_of_the_Throats). Some of those dolls creep me out, so I think I prefer the strange throat ritual. (hehehe)

    1. Yes, as I said, the dolls to me seem rather surreal. I won't say anything more than that; don't want offend anyone's religious beliefs.