Facemasked Christ Child figures raising Covid awareness among Mexicans

By Ines Amarelo

Mexico City, Dec 13 (efe-epa).- The ceramic figures of the Christ Child that every December fill the streets in Mexico City’s historic center this year are attracting attention because of the fact that some businessmen in the district are adorning them with facemasks to raise awareness among their fellow citizens about taking health precautions amid the raging coronavirus pandemic.

A facemask and a small bottle of hand sanitizer – both corresponding to the size of the tiny Christ Child figures – are accompanying the images all along Talavera Street, where traditionally crowds of believers have given evidence of their faith during past holiday seasons.

On Dec. 24, many families oh and ah over the many figures honoring the birth of Jesus, but also St. Jude the Apostle, the Holy Infant of Atocha and the Sacred Heart are other classical images that are widely sold and displayed.

But local businessmen selling these images always try to include something in their creations that reflect the popular mood in any given year, and recently it’s been a migrant Christ Child or a “huachicolero” (someone who steals fuel with an eye toward reselling it).

This year, however, the interest in the images is not merely commercial, but rather to help raise awareness among the public and encourage them to use facemasks, and Niños Uribe, a 45-year-old business and pioneer along Talavera Street, now known as the “Christ Child Street,” has designed and prepared the garments used to create the perfect image during the pandemic.

“The Dr. Christ Child image has always existed and we did this because we’re supporting it when people use facemasks and face shields. We made these outfits that my father-in-law and my wife created to raise people’s awareness so that this pandemic doesn’t go on any longer,” Emanuel Gonzalez, the owner of Niños Uribe, told EFE.

Although the street is nowhere near as crowded as normal, some curious passersby stopped before one of the firm’s stores, where three Christ Child figures were displayed with their various accoutrements along with a sign saying: “Covid Christ Child.”

In addition, Gonzalez said that it’s also a way to show that “faith moves mountains.”

“It’s a very nice tradition because it unites the family and generates faith. People ask a lot of their saints. So, since faith moves mountains, let’s see if, by faith, we can create awareness among the people,” he said.

In the coming days, the street – which is normally practically impassible at this time of year with large crowds of people flocking here to pick up the best costume for their Christ Child images – will probably be considerably emptier than normal due to the pandemic, which is surging markedly in Mexico City.

Some customers are coming here to shop early out of fear of the anticipated larger crowds later, and the shops are filled with signs reminding everyone of the necessary health measures – like having one’s temperature taken before they can enter, using hand sanitizer and social distancing, among other things.

However, Gonzalez recommends that people make their purchases online since many businesses already provide that service and having people take advantage of it would greatly help to reduce the traffic flow in the area.

But many people prefer to see the costumes from up close, touch them and come shopping for their Christ Child garments with their families, a task that is very important for many Mexicans.

All during December and up until Feb. 2 – the Candlemas holiday when the faithful celebrate the Baby Jesus’ presentation at the Temple to be baptized – there will be floods of shoppers in the capital’s historic downtown district, but just how many depends on how the pandemic evolves.

Mexico has tallied 1,241,436 confirmed coronavirus cases along with 113,704 deaths since last February, making it the country with the fourth largest number of deaths, after the United States, Brazil and India.

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