Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas visitors

Globeville is rich with the traditions of the many ethnic groups who have settled there. Early settlers from the Carpathian mountains, Slovaks, celebrated with a meal that featured 12 food items to symbolize the 12 apostles. Afterward, there might be a visit from the jaslickari or Star Carolers, young men and boys dressed as the Three Kings or shepherds and an angel carrying a star on a pole. One member of the group carried a creche and told the story of the nativity in song. An extra place was always set at the Christmas table to receive a traveling stranger who might be the Christ Child in disguise.
Globeville was also home to many German-Russians from Norka, Russia who brought with them the custom of the Christkind and the Pelznickel. The role of the Christkind was usually played by a young lady with a clear voice, dressed in white with a veil over her face to hide her identity. She would arrive on Christmas Eve to question the children of the house. Did you obey your parents? Have you said your prayers faithfully? If the children answered these questions satisfactorily, they were given small gifts (provided by the parents) and the Christkind departed to visit the other homes on her route. For unruly or disobedient children, the Pelznickel was summoned. The Pelznickel was portrayed by a strong young fellow with an unkempt beard dressed in a sheepskin coat, a long chain over one shoulder and a bundle of switches in his right hand. Children would hear a recitation of their misdeeds and would hear the sound of the switches. Only after the children had promised to behave in the future did the Pelznickel disappear into the night. The threat of the Pelznickel appearing would be enough to keep many children from misbehaving all year. 
Las Posadas is a wonderful Mexican tradition where travelers recreate the story of Mary and Joseph as they search for a place to stay in Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus.  The holiday ritual includes a procession of pilgrims or peregrinos dressed as Joseph, Mary, angels, shepherds and the Three Wise Men travel from house to house until they reach the home designated as the Inn. Upon arrival, the procession is met at the door by the "innkeepers" and sing a lyric asking for shelter. Joseph and Mary are finally recognized and allowed inside where everyone rejoices with songs, prayers, music and sweets. The custom can last nine days, from December 16 to Christmas and is practiced by families and congregations in Globeville, including one on Monday, December 17 from Holy Rosary Church. 

Christmas Traditions in Norka

Holy Rosary Church