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Mexico’s tamale vendors making the most of Candlemas

Mexico City, Feb 1 (EFE).- Tamale vendors were doing a brisk business Tuesday as Mexicans prepared to celebrate the Christian feast of Candlemas with the Aztec nation’s traditional staple.

Candlemas, formally known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, is observed on Feb. 2 to commemorate the day when Mary brought the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for the first time.

Angel Alfaro, a tamalero (tamale vendor) in the Mexico City suburb of Tultitlan who has been at the trade for 17 years, told EFE that he has already sold more than 2,000 tamales this week, roughly three times what he would usually sell in an entire week.

“It’s very important, sales rise and we have orders for as many as 50 or 100 tamales,” he said.

La Candelaria is linked to Three Kings’ Day (Jan. 6), when Mexicans enjoy a dessert known as Rosca de Reyes, which contains a small figurine of the Baby Jesus. Whoever finds the figurine in his or her slice of cake must then take on the responsibility of hosting – and catering – the tamale meal for Candlemas.

This year, both producers and consumers in Mexico are contending with an inflation rate of nearly 8 percent, forcing tamaleros like Alfaro to raise their prices.

“Plantain leaf, chicken, butter, flour. The prices of everything have increased much more than I have increased mine,” he said.

Alfaro said that while he is paying his suppliers between 30 percent and 40 percent more, he has only increased his price by 2 pesos (about 10 cents).

“A month ago I was selling them for 16 pesos (80 cents, now for 18 (90 cents),” he said, adding that the price hike has done nothing to dampen demand from his customers. EFE


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