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Niño Emmanuel in Santiago Tepalcatlalpan of Mexico City

Published March 10, 2024 in Mexico , Religion - 0 Comments

In Xochimilco area of Mexico City, you have different towns that share a similar custom.

Where there is some doll looking figure that holds great religious importance and is used during many of the town's holidays.

During my 3 months living in the town of Santiago Tepalcatlalpan, the town's doll was known as Niño Emmanuel.

Let's get into the details.

This image of Niño Emmanual is a representation of the infant Jesus whose name Emmanuel means “god with us or god among us."

There is no record of his arrival to the town or when he has been venerated. Many of the people originally from the town say that he has been there for a long time but currently no one knows how or when he arrived into town.

This image of the Niño Emmanuel has more elaborate carvings. For this reason and because of a small study that some anthropologists have carried out, they designated the image as European in nature. They believe it is at least 200 years old.

The image has an approximate size of 45cm long. It is carved in a single piece of wood. Brown eyes that are made of some crystal or glass. Its hair is curly. The right hand is raised with the fingers in a blessing position. The left hand is at the height of the stomach and has a small gold ring which was a gift from one of his butlers. Due to the position of the image, it is believed that it may have similarities to Virgin Mary or Saint Joseph.

Niño Emmanual can also be found during the many different holidays celebrated throughout the year in Santiago Tepalcatlalpan. During my time living there, almost every single time there was a holiday being celebrated I saw the locals carrying Niño Emmanual.

Some of the holidays I was there for included Las Posadas, Día de Reyes, El Día de la Candelaria, etc For some of those holidays, I would see locals carrying around what looked like their own version of Niño Emmanual.

There was also one street stand in front of the church that was offering to fix up anyone's doll.

Whenever the crowd began carrying the main doll for the celebrations, there were usually other religious artifacts they carried. And always there would be banda music playing and a small group of chinelos dancing.

They'd carry the doll around at times during the early afternoon and at night. Most often they carried the doll back and forth between 2 specific locations:

The main church of the town known as Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol Tepalcatlalpan.

Which the image at the top of this article is where that was taken.

And to the house of some important family that was located on the street known as cda. 5 de mayo.

This image was taken at that house.

There were also just a few murals I saw in the streets dedicated to Niño Emmanual

And like I said, other areas of Xochimilco have their own "Niño" For example, you have Niño de Belén.

Some of the locals are also not shy to explain the importance of Niño Emmanual to you. One such person I befriended took the time to walk over to where Niño Emmanual was being held and explained some of the history I'm explaining here.

Anyway, that's all I got for now on this subject.

It's another example of some of the interesting traditions and customs that exist in Mexico City.

Enjoy the videos below that I took during my time in this town known as Santiago. 

Thanks for reading.

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Best regards,


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