Mexican Pastorelas

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Photographs by Domingo Banda (2018)

Mexico is a country full of traditions that are instilled in its citizens and shine bright specially during the Holiday Season where people love to celebrate the Christmas spirit by enjoying the famous Pastorelas!

So, what are pastorelas? Pastorelas were originally strictly religious, short, theatrical plays depicting the journey  of the Virgin Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for the  birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus ChristAll pastorelas have the same story line where Lucifer and his devils try to stop the shepherds from reaching Bethlehem, but Archangel Gabriel and his angels come to the rescue and keep the shepherds in the holy path to baby Jesus. However, throughout the years, these short plays strayed into more popular genres and began to include various social, economical and even political issues intertwined in the original Christmas story.

Nonetheless, Pastorelas always include the traditional characters such as the infamous Lucifer and his devils,  the warrior Archangel Gabriel and his angels, and the naive Shepherds.  The Virgin Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus are most often represented by the nativity at the end of the play.

Typically, pastorelas are family oriented to teach the children the meaning of Christmas and to help them distinguish good versus evil. However, the content of the pastorelas may vary depending on the intended audience. Some may include double entendres for a more mature crowd.

With their comical content, Pastorelas are a fun way to look at Christmas!

I want to end by giving a big shout out to Grupo de Teatro Índigo for sharing the pictures from their PASTORELA: “Los Pastores a Belén” presented in Houston, TX.

Thanks for reading,

Gabby Salazar

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