Page 30 - 48º North - The Sailing Magazine - December 2017
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Galley Essentials with Amanda
There are a multitude of fabulous holiday festivals in the seaside towns of the San Juans and Puget Sound region. One of the most unique takes place in our home port of Friday Harbor, and I’d encourage you to sail up and check it out! Here is a window into the festive experience:
In the Port of Friday Harbor parking lot in mid-December, a crowd gathers in the early evening darkness. Shy smiles and greetings are exchanged as candles and sheets of Spanish lyrics are passed around. A pickup truck mounted with two large speakers slowly starts up Spring Street and the gathering follows behind singing a Spanish hymn. Women carrying pots of large roses lead the procession, they’re dressed in long embroidered skirts and blouses. Elaborate aprons and shawls add more color to their ensemble, their
dark hair braided with wide colored ribbons.
As the hymn comes to a close, a loud clack, clack, clack erupts in time to mariachi music emanating from the trucks speakers. It’s the Dance of the Elders, an ancient pre-Columbian ritual and a dozen hunched men stamp their wooden soled sandals and walking sticks to create the distinctive clacking. Colorful serapes,
Feast of
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Amanda Swan Neal
ribboned sombreros and comical ‘white old man’ masks accent their white trousers and shirts. Weaving amongst the stomping men is a scary clown and menacing wolf and they’re soon joined by the women. The procession continues after the dance with a four-foot lighted statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the center, preceding a group of singers holding candles. The dancing and singing alternates all the way up through town, to St. Francis Catholic Church where the statue is taken inside.
The Dance of the Elders procession in Friday Harbor
The next evening is the 12th of December and Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass is being held at the St Francis Church. The church is jam-packed and looking very festive. Long rows of red, white and green papel picado (decorative paper cut banners) hang across the ceiling and the Virgin of Guadalupe statue takes pride of place at the front of the church surrounded with the pots of abundant roses. A sermon and prayer is given by the priest honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. Just when I think we’ll sing a hymn, a mariachi band blasts out a few joyful traditional carols, totally taking me by surprise, as they’ve been hidden from view up in the balcony.
After mass, we’re invited to a Mexican fiesta at the community center. It’s in part a Catholic celebration of the belief that a Juan Diego encountered
the Virgin Mary, Mexico’s patron saint, in Mexico City on December 9 and 12 in 1531. Mary told Juan to ask the bishop to build a church on Tepeyac Hill. The bishop required proof, asking for a miracle. Returning to the hill, Juan discovered there were now roses instead of cacti. He showed them to the bishop, also revealing an image of
Dinner at the Friday Harbor Fiesta
December 2017

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