The Devil in the Navidad Mercado!
I visited the open air Navidad Mercado in downtown Torreon today. There were candies, gorditas, tacos, caldos as well as very typical Mexican Christmas items not to be found in stores. I was very intrigued by the many little Devil figures in the stalls selling the Nativity pieces. Here the Devil figure is used in nativities to show the struggle against evil in the world. One Nativity set had a band of angels watching over the manger while the Devil plotted in the background! A central part of Christmas celebration & Posadas is the Nacimiento. It is similar to a snow village but with a religious focal point. Christmas trees are sometimes used but are considered a luxury for most Mexican families. Nacimientos are added to each year with people passing on literally 100's of pieces to the next generation. The Nacimiento pieces are very reasonable & cost very little since the people from every walk of life seem to have one.
The Mexican Nacimiento is built in tiers and landscaped to represent a barn or shelter. The nativities are put out on December 14 & usually left till February 2, the day of Purification which is the final Christmas holiday celebration. There are the standard Biblical figurines which are added to represent the three wise men, shepherds and the Nino Jesus. Since the Nacimientos & Pastorelas (Pastoral Passion plays of good versus evil) were used by the Spanish priests to convert people to Christianity the figures not only have religious symbolism but also have very historical significance & are more Mexican in origin. I saw a virtual zoo of animals in the Mercado as well as a few Juan Diegos, Priests, Nuns, Saints, bridges, water wells, little Puebla houses & everyday tableaus of life in Mexico that could be imported into a Nativity scene. I saw Diablos~Devils with pitchforks, lurking in caves to tempt the wisemen from thier journey, Diablos carrying liquor bottles, carrying bags of money & one playing a fiddle! Some how Charlie Daniels came to mind with his "Devil went down to Georgia" song! Apparently he went to Mexico as well! The little Diablos are ribald little figures meant to illustrate the worthless qualities of evil & sin. So, this is my story of how I bought a Devil for my Nacimiento as well as a Cactus tree which is truly Mexican!
The one I found was made by the Purepecha-Tarascan Indians from southern Mexico.