Saturday, January 10, 2015

Blessing for a New Year

"Let's go have tea at the neighbors!" my host mom said on my third day in the country, and so we walked around the corner to meet her friends Vilma and Anita for a little tea party.  As we chatted over a cake and cups of the awesome "Rose of Jamaica" tea, Vilma's aunt and uncle stopped by to visit too.

I had a harder time understanding Vilma's aunt and uncle when they spoke (I'm not sure why...maybe they speak too fast or slur their words), but I did understand that they are planning to take a trip to Philadelpia USA in the Fall because the Pope is going to be there and they want to see him in person.

I also understood that they invited us to come to their home the following day, and so Vilma, my host mom, and I climbed in the car around 6 p.m. to make the way to their house.  When we arrived, a party was just getting started.  Twinkling lights and rows of lawn chairs in their garage and house welcomed their friends and family to participate in their "Rosario", a Costa Rican Catholic tradition of blessing your home each new year.

The program was a mix of songs accompanied by guitar, the aunt reciting some formal Catholic prayers, everyone else joining in to say the words, and then more songs again.  I had to smile when they sang the spanish version of "jingle bells" which mentions all the cold and snow, here in San Jose which stays green and comfortable (65 to 85 degrees) all year round.  At the very end, the uncle gave a prayer specifically to bless their house, asking for specific blessings for he and his wife.  It was very sweet.

Here's a little video to give you a feel for the program.

As soon as he said "Amen", out came the food!  First people walked around offering trays with little chicken tacos, next carrying trays of a milk drink with cinnamon, then a yellow Costa Rican corn drink, then dinner-sized plates of beans, rice, and chicken. 

Next was tamales wrapped in grape leaves, and then "aquadulce" (sweet water: a hot drink of boiled sugarcane), coffee, little bags of corn bread, little bags of candies for the children.    I was amazed at the steady stream of delicious food.

And then all the fun started, with people gathering to sing fun songs, and even grabbing each other to dance to the music.  Here's a little video of Vilma singing with her Aunt and Uncle and the guitarist.

But even better than all the great food, drink, music and dancing, was all the love I saw as people went around greeting and hugging and kissing each other. Here's Vilma with one of the twin baby girls people were loving on.

And here's Vilma's Aunt loving on the other twin.

As I left the house, Vilma's aunt kissed me goodbye and said "See you tomorrow, if God will's it".  And God did will it, because I saw her the next day at a similar program held in Vilma's house.  It turns out that Vilma's aunt and uncle spend most of the months of January and February putting on this program at various people's houses. 

"You're welcome to come visit me anytime", Vilma's aunt said, "but please call first because I'm super busy with all these programs", which I think is a beautiful way for them to spend their time....spreading music and blessings and love.

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