The “Pastorelas” are dramatizations of the shepherds’ journey to see the infant Jesus played by the villagers in all Mexico at Christmas time. They enact the struggle of angels against the devils that are trying to hinder the shepherds.

The omnipresent characters are the Angel (depicting the Archangel Michael), the Shepherds, the Hermit (who embodies the spirit of the ancestors), and of course the “Diablo” (Devil).

In Nurio (Michoacan), one of the characters, the Hermit ("el Ermitano"), takes a spectacular importance, unseen in any of the surrounding villages: two groups of dozens of young men, faces covered by real animal masks (mostly foxes from the surrounding forests), each of them wearing dozens of embroidered aprons lent by mother, sister, girlfriend, rush all over town and go into “pretend” fights, jumping and confronting each other (with their forehead only). It is a fascinating moment, the silence being broken only by the loud breaths produced by the animals/instigators. It is a fight of conquest, a dance of seduction (for the young women looking at the fight), a return to the origins, a surrealist display of beauty and energy, a pure symbol of vitality and connection with nature.

Little boys try to take part in the ritual, jumping and running all over town. As most of them cannot obtain a real animal mask, they create their own with a lot of imagination! 

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