MEXICO CITY – Every year, thousands flock to the Niño Dios market in the heart of Mexico City in search of accessories to dress Baby Jesus figurines in commemoration of the presentation of Jesus at the church.
The market, located on Talavera street, showcases a wide array of garments and accessories to dress the Jesus figurines, including gowns, shoes and scepters. Although the Catholic Church suggests that the statues be dressed in white, one is able to find a multitude of unorthodox outfits, ranging from the jerseys of soccer players to mariachis to Christian figures like the pope or Saint Jude.
Along with thousands of others, Cecilia Lopez Romero’s family makes their living here.
Teresa Ramirez Lopez, the daughter of 96-year-old Cecilia, told EFE how her parents used to drive around in her father’s van 50 years ago selling wooden chairs for the Baby Jesus figurines that he made.
But selling accessories is not the only trade pursued here.
Former snack vendor Luis Jimenez repairs up to 120 Baby Jesus statues per day using plaster and spray paint. He then adds the finishing touches, such as lips, eyes and eyebrows with a fine brush, a task that earns him anywhere from 50 to 150 pesos ($2-8) a piece. He even throws in a couple for free as his “daily good deed.”
“I brought my Baby Jesus to have it fixed and touched up,” said Maria Luisa Herrera who, for 10 years, has come to the market to find all the accessories necessary to celebrate Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus.
Although Talavera Street started it all, the tradition of clothing Baby Jesus figurines for Candlemas nowadays is a feature of almost every Mexican city.