A candle yes, but not just any candle. Una veladora. The kind with Mary, Jesus or a Santo on the front side, a prayer on the back side, and a glass container to contain all of its holiness in one place.
This is not a sacrilegious post…let me just get that out of the way now. And no my blog is not becoming a strictly Christian or Catholic themed website, although I don’t necessarily think that would be a bad thing…but of late, religion and the methods we employ to express our faith have been omnipresent in my mind.
You see, a few weeks ago, after years of resisting the urge to buy a veladora, my wife and I were doing our usual late night grocery shopping at the giant flagship ‘multi-ethnic’ store near our house when there they were. All lined up in what I think is supposed to be the Latino aisle of the store, rows and rows of glass-contained candles. Some short, others tall, in different colors, and all beckoning me to come over, just a little closer. I didn’t want anything too flashy or too big. The Virgin de San Juan, was nice and it made me think of the Iglesia de San Juan of my youth…not to mention she is the official virgin who oversees all of the San Juans of the world like me.
In the end it was a small white veladora with the image of Jesucristo on it that won me over. As soon as we got home I lit it up and in a matter of days we had pretty much gone through all of the white wax inside that tiny container. At home it reminded me of the altars my Mamatule (my grandmother) always used to have setup in that tiny extra room of her house – way up there on the hillsides of El Sauz, Cerritos, San Luis Potosi, Mexico – with the celophane flowers, in reds, yellows, and blues, La Virgen de la Rinconada centered at the very top, and pictures of all of us at her feet where Mamatule pleaded for out happiness and good health every chance she got.
El cuarto de La Virgen de la Rinconada.
My mother, on the other hand, was never a big user of the veladora. Usually they’d come out in times of great difficulty or distress, when it seemed only a Virgen, a Santo, or Jesucristo himself, could help us overcome a certain dilemma.
Maybe it was for the same reason I hadn’t bought a veladora in so many years?
As trivial and mundane as it might sound, my main reason for avoiding this specialty of Christian candles for so many years is the single and solitary question of how to properly and respectfully dispose of a veladora once it has completely burned out?
Just throwing away the empty container seems very disrespectful to me. The same applies to any other items, from business cards to calendars, with any religious images on them. I always feel guilty about throwing them away, and so they just accumulate in my car, in my house, even in my wallet. The 2004 calendar/business card from ‘Estetica Unisex Evelyn’ still sits in my wallet to this day. It’s faded, dirty, and outdated, but how can one throw away anything with the image of Jesus at the cross on it?
Help! Necesito recomendaciones.