Tag Archives: holiday

Nov 16 2011

4 ways to remember your sponsored friend at Thanksgiving

CFCA sponsor Catherine Donahue gets a hug from her sponsored child, Betty, during an awareness trip to Colombia

CFCA sponsor Catherine Donahue gets a hug from her sponsored child, Betty, during a May 2011 mission awareness trip to Colombia.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect on the many blessings we are grateful for. Why not take a moment to give thanks for the sponsored child or elderly friend in your life?

Here are four ideas for remembering your sponsored friend during this special day.

1. Add a new dining tradition to your Thanksgiving meal. Research a recipe from your sponsored friend’s country and serve it with all your other favorites. Family and friends will have many questions, and you can share with them about CFCA.

2. Give thanks for your sponsored friend by keeping a photo nearby. Share with your guests why sponsorship is important to you.

3. Contact CFCA to receive a profile of a child or aging friend awaiting sponsorship. This Thanksgiving, inspire someone else to make a difference.

4. Say one thing you appreciate about the person sitting next to you at the Thanksgiving table, and go around the room until everyone has had a chance to participate. Include your sponsored friend as one of the people you’re thankful for.

If you have other ideas of how you and your family can incorporate CFCA into your own holiday traditions, we’d love to hear them.

In just one example, the Hubbards creatively made Christmas tree ornaments of children awaiting sponsorship last year.

Perhaps you have another idea you’d like to share with us. Let us know in the comments below!

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Jan 6 2011

Celebrating Three Kings Day

Two CFCA projects explain the Three Kings Day celebrations taking place on Jan. 6:

Mexico

In most parts of Mexico, they believe that the Three Kings, or the Magi ó traditionally Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar ó visit the homes at dawn on Jan. 6 to leave gifts for children who have behaved well throughout the year.

Children write letters to the Magi asking for the toys they would like. This tradition is based on the Biblical passage where the three kings brought the child Jesus gold, incense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11).

Kings Cake

Children in Cuernavaca, Mexico, wait to partake of the traditional ìRosca de Reyes,î or Kings Cake ñ a bread with sugar and crystallized fruit.

Days before Jan. 6, parents buy gifts and hide them from the children so they are surprised and believe the kings brought the gifts.

On Jan. 6, the children wake up early, impatient and thrilled to find the gifts left for them. The children play with their toys all day long with their siblings and friends.

Families, offices, schools, neighbors, friends ñ in short, everyone ñ partakes of the traditional ìRosca de Reyes,î or Kings Cake, which is a bread in the shape of a ring decorated with sugar and crystallized fruit.

Various small plastic dolls about an inch and a half long are hidden inside to represent the baby Jesus.

Each person cuts his or her own piece of cake, and those who find a doll inside must bring tamales to everyone present on Feb. 2, the day when Mexican families bring the statue of baby Jesus to the church for a blessing.

According to the Bible, that is the day when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple.

This tradition is practiced primarily in urban and suburban communities, because families in rural areas do not have the economic means to do so.

-Written and edited by: Daniel Luna, Alicia Garza Ramos and Angelica Lozada at the CFCA project in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Martha Meireles, Cuernavaca project coordinator, sent us this report.

Dominican Republic

The celebration of Three Kings Day is one of the biggest traditions in the Dominican Republic.

The celebration starts Jan. 4 when children write letters for the three kings describing the gifts they want and put them in Christmas trees, on beds or give them to their parents.

On Jan. 5 in the afternoon, children find grass, water and food, and place them under their beds for the camels and wise men to eat and drink and eat when they visit at night.

On this day, children go to bed earlier than usual. Once the children are asleep, parents place the gifts under their bed or at the Christmas tree and take the food away to let the children know the three kings visited them.

At dawn, you can hear in the street whistles, laughter and the sound of bikes, children running and playing with their toys after opening the gifts.

The celebration is extended to the community because the children visit their neighbors to show them their gifts, and the neighbors usually give them other gifts left for them by the wise men.

This tradition turns a normal day into a magical day and offers an unforgettable memory that will last all their lives.

This beautiful tradition is full of faith and love holding a magical world of fantasies uniting families and communities.

-Nelson Figueroa, CFCA project coordinator in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, sent us this report.

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Jan 3 2011

How different parts of the world celebrate the New Year

We asked CFCA communication liaisons to describe how they celebrated the New Year in their countries. Here are three reports:

Guatemala

In my beautiful country Guatemala, New Yearís celebrations are prepared with great joy, and our customs and traditions give this year-end feast a special touch.

Traditionally, we receive the New Year with a delicious Guatemalan tamale on the table, prepared from corn, chicken or pork ñ salty or sweet with grapes and raisins ñ and also a hot cup of fruit punch or traditional hot chocolate.

fireworks

We all enjoy dinner as a family waiting for midnight. And then … young and old enter the streets to illuminate the night sky with firecrackers and fireworks.

The tremendous noise announcing the New Year is heard across the whole country.

Beside our Christmas tree and next to the nativity scene, locally called “El Nacimiento,” we say a family prayer.

It all ends with strong hugs and often with tears of joy and emotion. -Luis CocÛn

Kenya

Fireworks lighting up the skies, cheers and ululations, cars honking ñ this is how Kenyans usher in the New Year.

On New Year’s Eve, young and old throng entertainment spots to sing, dance and drink. The towns are usually alive with activity, and music is heard from miles away.

When the long-awaited hour approaches, a countdown starts. As the clock strikes midnight, the crowd goes into a frenzy as people scream at the top of their voices and toast the New Year.

However, not everyone goes to entertainment spots. Some opt to go to evening church vigils where they sing, praise God and listen to preaching.

As the hour approaches, the faithful pray for a fruitful year filled with Godís blessings.†When midnight strikes, praise songs fill the places of worship as the New Year is dedicated to God.

Whether in churches or entertainment spots, Kenya ushers in the New Year in style.

Kenyans are a jovial lot and wherever they are, laughter fills the air as a new chapter is opened.†-Regina Mburu

El Salvador

The celebration of New Year’s Eve, or †Noche Vieja (old night), is big in El Salvador.

Families welcome the New Year with food, cumbia, merengue or salsa music, fire crackers and fireworks, as well as unique midnight ceremonies.

Before midnight, hundreds of families buy what is locally called “Estreno,” or brand-new clothing.

We have a tradition of buying brand-new outfits to be worn at night to welcome the New Year, to attract new and positive things all year long.

Streets are full of people at night; neighbors visit neighbors, share food and dance a little.

Children and teenagers usually spend most of the night popping firecrackers or fireworks.

As midnight approaches, some people prepare unique ceremonies. One is the egg ritual, where people break an egg one minute before midnight, dump it in a glass with water and let it sit as the year changes.

The egg yolk mutates into various forms, and people try to interpret them as trips, houses, etc., a sign of things to come in the New Year.

At midnight, everybody is outside. Family members hug one another; there are tears and laughs; the phone rings with calls from relatives in other countries to wish the family a Happy New Year; and neighbors embrace, offering peace and best wishes.

One hour into the New Year, streets are empty.

The distant sound of a few firecrackers reminds you that the New Year has arrived and that we must do our best to make it a really good one.†-Henry Flores

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Dec 12 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe has deep meaning in lives of sponsored members

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, celebrating Maryís apparition to an indigenous man, Juan Diego. This important Mexican holiday represents Godís deep and intimate love for the poor. Mary and Jesus walk with the poor through Juan Diego, calling him by name and recognizing his dignity and the dignity of the Mexican people, who had just been conquered by Spain.

Matilde Mendoza, a CFCA staff member from the town of Villa Garcia, in the state of Nuevo Leon, summed up the importance of the Virgin of Guadalupe to CFCAís sponsored members.

ìThe words of Mary to Juan Diego are the words that CFCA has contemplated: ëAm I not here with you who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection?í

ìMary comes and gives hope, returning the dignity of the people, uniting the cultures. Everyone receives her love. This is CFCA for our sponsored people, making present the words of Mary in their realities.î

The story of the Virgin of Guadalupe
The morning of Dec. 9, 1531, Juan Diego was walking near the Hill of Tepeyac when he had a vision of the Virgin Mary. In his native language of Nahualt, she instructed that a church be built at the site. Juan Diego, an Aztec Indian, relayed the request to Mexicoís first bishop, Juan de Zumarraga. When the Spanish bishop demanded proof of this vision, Juan Diego returned to the hill Dec. 12. Mary once again appeared to him and told him to collect some roses from the top of the usually barren and desolate hill.

He gathered the roses in his cloak and returned to the bishop. As the roses tumbled to the floor, an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe was emblazoned upon his cloak. Here was the proof Bishop Zumarraga needed, and he approved the construction of the church.

Today, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is located north of Mexico City, and 477 years after her appearance Maryís image is still visible on Juan Diegoís cloak, which hangs in the basilica.

ourladyguadalupeCelebration in Villa de Garcia
The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated from Dec. 3-12. The forms of venerating and celebrating the Virgin of Guadalupe vary according to region, neighborhood, church, city and state.

In Villa de Garcia, home to 270 CFCA sponsored members, Mass is celebrated every afternoon followed by pilgrimages and lectures about Mary or performances portraying the encounters between her and Juan Diego.

Pilgrimages through Villa de Garcia
The pilgrimages weave through Villa de Garcia so that the largest number of people can participate. The Matlachines, indigenous dancers in traditional clothing, lead the pilgrimage by dancing and beating the drum. The people follow and, from time to time, sing and pray.

Serenading the Virgin
On Dec. 11, the pilgrimages end at midnight with mariachi performers serenading the Virgin, and on Dec. 12, after the Mass, people gather†at a big festival†for fellowship and to honor the Lady of Guadalupe.

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