Customs

The Christ Child and Soccer Today

Niño Emanuel in Cuzco (Photo: David Knowlton)

All night long it rained, a constant roll of drops on the city’s roofs. Shortly after dawn it ceased and the city glows in humid light as if its hills claimed the green of the UK and Ireland. But there is no confusion given the Spanish colonial city core and Inca walls everywhere.

The Plaza de Armas’ benches fill with families sitting and enjoying the light diffused through clouds. On their laps, under gauze, they delicately hold their Christ Child, their Niño Manuel.

Tomorrow is the Bajada de Reyes, the Coming-Down of the Kings, or as it is called elsewhere the Feast of the Epiphany commemorating the visit of the Wise Men to the Baby Jesus. This day is the official end of Christmas in Peru and the Manuel along with all the other components of their manger scenes return to safe places in the home.

In the meantime, people have brought them into the streets with them to share their life and that of the city with this image of the divine. Early this morning Mass in the Cathedral, with its Christmas songs and liturgy in Quechua was filled with people carrying their Manuel in their arms.

At the same time doorways and street corners held pockets of young man sharing the last drink after a night of carousing, and fallen comrades lay on streets or door stoops, sleeping their drunk off while rain washed the night off them.

Soccer in Santa Rosa (Photo: David Knowlton)
Soccer in Santa Rosa (Photo: David Knowlton)

Many other people were still at home, slowly waking up and taking on the day. You could almost hear the universal hum of blenders across the city as they pulsed fresh fruit and water into their morning juices.

As the day rolls on, entire families will come out to take a stroll around the city, while enjoying their day free from work. Some will also enter the cafes and fincas of the city to enjoy a Sunday dinner away from the home.

Even though the clouds threaten to let loose again before the day is through, teenagers adult men clean their soccer shoes and call around to make sure their friends will be in the many small soccer fields around the city and in various larger, if not full sized fields, such as Santa Rosa in suburban San Sebastian which has just finished its patronal feast organized teams will gather to compete in tournaments.

All over the city men will be showing off their foot work and their ability to loose the defense trying to block them from moving the ball forward and taking a shot at the goal.

Tempers will flair, from time to time, but the teams and the masses of friends and family, as well as just fans, coming to watch will roar with approval or groan in deception.

Sundays and Mass go together just like Sundays and Soccer in this town of colonial churches and soccer fields.

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