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Dear Customers and Friends,
Pueblo weddings can be big occasions. The one I attended last Saturday at Jemez Pueblo was the wedding of the year. At Jemez, photography is usually not allowed, but cameras were everywhere on Saturday, and mine was one of them. I will share with you a glimpse into the events at a fine pueblo wedding after the Catholic wedding mass in a beautiful small church in the pueblo. This is not the main historic church of the pueblo.
My wedding gift was three Russian shawls. These are highly esteemed by pueblo women, and they are used to create the ceiling of the Christmas custom at Jemez Pueblo known as “Bethlehem”. I have enjoyed many Bethlehems over the years, so my wedding gifts were a way of giving back for all the pleasure I have enjoyed at these Christmas events. These Russian shawls are block printed with blocks more than a century old. They are of wool challis and are precious and hard to get. I carry them in my shop, and if you want one, you should call the shop and ask for photos of what we have in stock. I now have one customer on the waiting list for a small one in black, like the one I wore myself to the wedding, fastened with a Russian pin.
After the formal wedding service, we walked a short distance to Persingula Toya’s house. Here is Persingula on the left, all dressed for her son’s wedding, standing in the room that has been “Bethlehem” twice.
The "Bethlehem" event is described on page 96 of my book, Christmas in Santa Fe. If you want to know more about Bethlehem, this book will inform you, based on my own personal association with it.
On Saturday this Bethlehem room served as a reception area for the wedding guests. The benches are for people to use while waiting to be called to eat at the bountiful feast day table.
I sell Delia Gauchupin’s pottery ornaments in my shop and on my website. This one (above right) she calls “A Star is Born”.
At the top of the wedding cake was a pottery scene made by Santana Seonia just for the occasion. Santana also made sweet little pins in the shape of a wedding vase, and she gave one to me to wear that day. Santana is a creative Jemez Pueblo potter and the most popular nativity maker in my shop. She is related to the groom’s family, so she helped with the wedding preparations.
Santana Seonia kiva nativity (pictured above).
Next to the big room with the wedding cake is the room where the wedding feast was served. Several pueblo ladies tend the table and announce to those seated on the benches when there is room for more people to eat. The feasting and celebrating continue till midnight. The kitchen was full of female cooks and female dishwashers.
I love pueblo feast day food. Here are the classic bowls of the red chile and the green chile and a slice of oven bread, baked in the outdoor adobe ovens called hornos.
Outside Persingula’s kitchen were several pueblo cooks tending a wood fire, and over the fire hung an enormous pot cooking many gallons of “Bone Stew”, another pueblo food I love. Here is what Bone Stew looked like in my bowl that day.
For dessert, I had a piece of Indian Pie. It had a traditional prune filling, which is not too sweet. Prune pie is easy to hold in your hands as you eat it. Some pueblo bakers bake it in the adobe hornos after the loaves of oven bread come out, using the residual heat.
The bride and groom finally arrived after they had been to two other feasts at two other houses, the bride’s family’s house and the sponsor’s house. Five loud rifle shots rang out, and then they ran into Persingulas’s house. The bride’s colors were blue and white, chosen because she is a Yankees fan. We tossed confetti and rice as they ran.
Once the bride and groom had entered Persingula’s house, it was so crowded that there was no room for me. It was time to return to Santa Fe, more than an hour’s drive. I’m grateful that I have so many wonderful pueblo friends. Many of these friends make ornaments and nativities for me to sell to customers like you. I’m also grateful that I have so many wonderful customers!
I hope you have enjoyed this story.