The Kermesse Verbena at Iglesia San Sebastian

The firecrackers started yesterday just before noon. I could hear them as they got closer and closer. It’s time for the kermesse verbena at la iglesia de San Sebastián Mártir.

This year the women of the church came by asking for donations for the Kermesse. I gave them 50pesos and signed my name on the list. They blessed the house and thanked me profusely. I feel so much better. Oh, and they delighted in telling me that their, bear with me, I have no religious knowledge; father, padre, pastor, whatever, is American.

So apparently the different gremios, or unions donate or have donated a change of clothing for the senora, and designate women, coordinated with the church to change out the clothing for the responsible gremio for their procession. Each of the 14 days of the kermesse is ‘sponsored’ by a different gremio, or union. The gremio provides the special outfit for the statue of our lady of asuncion, they ensure the outfit is clean, pressed, and selected members participate in the dressing of the statue. The gremio members make up the procession. In this way the gremio and it’s members have another years blessing.
Here are a few photos from one of last years processions.

I only sort of understand what a kermesse verbena is. I know it’s from the 5th to the 15th of August this year, and that everyday, or nearly everyday at about 11, or it could be at 10, or maybe noon, the procession will start, they will exit the church, march a few blocks , down past my house around and return to the church. The women will be carrying banner s of their gremio. And they will carry the statue of nuestra senora de la asuncion – I’m not 100% who she is (does she have a name, or is she just symbolic of something, is she Mary?), regardless it’s way cool to watch.

So I’m off to ask.com and google to see if I can get some info – if I find out anything I’ll report back. If you know anything fill us in…

I know it happens every year, I’ve attended events, watched the processions, but don’t really understand why’s and wherefores.

verbena is a fiesta or street party held on the eve a certain saints’ days.

Therefore; logic dictates that the statue (nuestra senora de la asunsion) is of the saint being recognized, although the iglesia is san sebastian(male). More research required, just who is this lady of asuncion?

kermesse is an outside fiesta, usually associated with schools? maybe this roughly translates to the gremio/union as well.

so again, speculation by me, maybe the church and school/gremio get to gether and host a street fiesta. My neighbor says it’s only the church involved, with the gremios.
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About Debi in Merida

I moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado USA to Merida, Yucatan, MX in January 2006. I love to read, garden, travel, and hang out with friends.
This entry was posted in iglesia san sebastian, kermesse verbena, merida mexico. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Kermesse Verbena at Iglesia San Sebastian

  1. mcm says:

    Thanks for the explanation of what a kermes is — I've seen the term used for the fairs that the Seminary holds, and some schools, but could never figure out just what it was….
    Here's a few more tidbits of info…I find this stuff really confusing, too.
    The (former) priest at San Sebastian is Fr. Richard Clifford, a Maryknoll father who's been in Merida for ages. He's no longer the parish priest, but was apparently administering (or whatever) the Mass for the celebration.
    The concept of gremios is also a bit confusing — my sense is that although it translates as “unions”, they're more like fraternities or lay brotherhoods. Anyway, each church seems to have a bunch of them — some dating back over a hundred years, and they take the responsibility for dressing the statue of the Virgin of that particular church each year. I imagine they do other stuff too….
    Santiago is just finishing up their celebration. August seems to be the big month for these…

  2. Very interesting. thank you.

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