As soon as Easter has passed, Mexican Catholics begin to look forward to Jueves de Corpus Christi. Each year, this auspicious day falls on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday and, as with all our Catholic traditions, here in Mexico we celebrate in style!
Each year, the Mexican observance of Corpus Christi centers around a solemn mass celebration, where the faithful receive the Eucharist and reconfirm their connection with the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus. From grand city Cathedrals to rural mountain village churches, these special masses are attended by the whole family.
While Corpus Christi is marked throughout the global Catholic community with rituals, processions and the telling of particular traditional stories, for us in Mexico it is a particularly important event in the Catholic calendar and we have our own special traditions for the day.
From the Belize border to Baja California, across Mexico Corpus Christi is also known as the Dias de las Mulas or Mulettas (Day of the Mules or Little Mules), after the time-honoured tradition of gifting small hand-made figurines of donkeys, or mules. These beautifully intricate statuettes, made by local Indigenous artisans from dried leaves, corn, plantain, and sometimes even pasta, are decorated with foods symbolic of the harvest, together with tiny pieces of barro negro pottery (a traditional pottery crafted in Mexico). Mexicans buy Mulettas to wear as pins on their clothing or to place about the home. This particular tradition dates back to pre-Catholic times and is a beautiful example.
Mexico has a special tradition that celebrates this diverse culture. On this day each year, Mexicans recognise one particular Corpus Christi day from many years ago, when Indigenous peoples of Mexico brought fruits and flowers as offerings to the Blessed Sacrament. The offerings were carried on the backs of donkeys (which is a contributing factor to the tradition of Mulettas), from peoples in San Luis Potosí, Tlaxcala, the State of Mexico, Puebla, Morelos and, later on, from Zacatecas, Queretaro, and Guanajuato.
These days, children attend mass on Corpus Christi clothed in traditional Mexican dress as a way of remembering the gifts brought to church by Indigenous people. It is a visually beautiful tradition, mostly strongly associated with The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heavens (Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielos).
The Mexican boys’ name, Manuel, is derived from the holy name ‘Emmanuel’, which means ‘God be with us’. Here in Mexico, this popular and blessed name is celebrated on Jueves de Corpus Christi with the Fiesta de la Manueles. Special human figurines small enough to fit in a child’s hand, known as Manuelitos, are crafted by local artisans. Unlike their mule counterparts, these figurines are decorated in special clothing and are made of more ‘cuddly’ materials. Alongside Mulettas, these Manuelitos hold a special place in the hearts of Mexican Catholics.
Tours Peregrinos Mexico wishes you a beautiful day of celebration today, and invites you to join us on a sacred pilgrimage to experience these wonderfully unique traditions for yourself.