One of the last weekends each July, the large Spanish community in the small town of Taos, NM engages in a weekend long celebration of the Feasts of Santiago and Santa Anna (St. James and St. Anne to you and me). As it is more eloquently put in their Fiesta publication each year: Fiestas de Santiago y Santa Ana. They are a tradition passed from generation to generation, a way of preserving the rich cultures that have developed in Taos over the last four centuries. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary to do during your RV trip to New Mexico, schedule a stop at the Fiestas.
The traditional Catholic feast days of St. James and St. Anne, the patron saints of Taos, July 25 and 26, respectively, are celebrated in over the weekend nearest those days every year. The Fiestas have evolved over the years as a way for the Spanish to honor their faith and these representations of it. The first day of the fiestas weekend honors Santiago; the second, St. Anne. St. James, patron saint of Spain from which many of the early settlers in the Taos area emigrated, was a simple fisherman when he was called to be a “fisher of men” while he and his brother John were mending their nets. According to the gospel, James also raised a dead girl to life in the name of Jesus and was eventually martyred for his faith. James had preached in northern Spain, then known as Galicia, and it was here his relics and remains were found in the 1800s, aglow with light, after being lost for some 1800 years.
St. Anne was reportedly chosen from the beginning of time to be the mother of the Virgin Mary. Born to wealthy parents, Anne’s family would give one third of their yearly income to the temple, one third to charity and live off the last third. Just before Anne’s mother died, she told of a revelation which said that Anne was a special vessel and should pray for a worthy husband. Anne found and married Joachim, but for 20 years the couple remained childless in spite of Anne’s prayers for a family. The angel Gabriel appeared to her one night when she was 44 years of age and informed her that she was to have a child who would give birth to the Redeemer. Later that night, Anne dreamed that an angel had written the name “Mary” in golden letters upon her bedroom wall. She gave thanks and spent her years at the temple instructing Mary until the latter came of age. On her feast day, the second day of Fiestas, women traditionally rode in horse-drawn carriages and mothers and older sisters hold tightly to the hands of children while marveling at the mystery of St. Anne, the perfect example of motherhood.
In my next post, we will explore the 2011 Fiestas de Taos. Read more about New Mexico camping and things to do in New Mexico.