December 10, 2007

Comanche Dance, Santa Claus, and Baby Jesus

Acoma, all ye faithful

New Mexico pueblo welcomes visitors for Christmas on the mesaChristmas is a private day on the mesa with more dancing in the church, gift exchanges and visits from family and friends.

Only around 30 people live on the mesa full time. Most Acoma live in the nearby communities. On feast days everyone returns. Tables are laden with food, including bread baked in a "horno"--a clay oven fired with wood--and posole, a mutton and hominy stew flavored with chilis and garlic. People go from house to house and there is always room for one more person around the table.

The next day, the public is again welcome to share in the festivities. In the church, I watch dancers doing a traditional Comanche dance as Santa Claus gives out presents and two men stand guard over Baby Jesus on the altar. There are toys and candy canes for the children and oranges for the elders. Everyone gets a present, including Baby Jesus.

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