BACKGROUND History of the Region and El Rito | Persons in the Film | Rural Weddings | Weddings in Wealthy Families | Suggested Reading
Celebración del Matrimonio
VERSES FROM AN OLD “ENTRIEGA” (sung by Cipriano Vigil to violin accompaniment, over montage of black and white photos of brides and grooms of the past):
Pues que los cuide mi Dios
Jesucristo los ampare
porque los que Dios junto
el hombre no lo separe.
El casorio es delicado
como un vaso de cristal
no mas una vez se quiebra
ya no se quede juntar.
Well may God watch over you;
Jesus Christ will guard you
because what God has joined
let no man separate.
Marriage is delicate
as a crystal glass (vase).
Once it’s broken
It cannot be united.
VOICE OF THE SINGER, CIPRIANO VIGIL (over photos of old-time wedding procession): Among Hispanic people of the Southwest, the entriega was sung three times during an individual’s life: at baptism, marriage, and death. Today the entriega remains a popular event at weddings. . . .
TITLE: CELEBRACIÓN DEL MATRIMONIO
NARRATOR, ENRIQUE LAMADRID (as the camera pans over a scenic mesa, the Cerro Pedernal, Chama River, the Pecos Mission, and the exterior and interior of the Sanctuario de Chimayo): When Hispanic colonists first came to New Mexico—beginning with the Oñate expedition in 1598—this land was the northern frontier of the Spanish colony of New Spain. Into the isolated river valleys and mountains they came, up from Mexico, to Christianize the Indians and to settle the land. In the frontier society, marriage was one of the greatest symbols of unity. Weddings were highly regulated by Church law and by the Spanish laws of the Indies that governed the New World. But here weddings varied from place to place, shaped by the blending of cultures in the new environment.
SR. JOSÉ RÓMULO MARTÍNEZ (in Spanish, over old-style dance music, with shots of the exterior and interior of the home of the speaker): I am José Rómulo Martínez of El Rito. I believe my ancestors established themselves here in about 1700. They were shepherds and ranchers and maybe worked the land too. I am the grandfather of Cecilia Martínez, who will be married.
FR. JEROME MARTÍNEZ (over the exterior of the church of San Juan Nepomuceno and inside the rectory where William and Cecilia are seated): Another lovely custom that our people had in those old days was the custom of the arras. The groom would present a little treasure box made out of jewels or some precious metal, and inside that they would place coins of gold and silver, depending on how well off he was. And during the mass he would present them to his bride and he would say, “With these I promise you my respect and my support for the rest of my life.” Then she would accept them and with her own words would say, “I promise you mine in return.” (Over shots of folk art showing the Holy Family and then the exterior of the church:) The custom of the arras came to us originally from North Africa—and it moved to Spain with the Moors, and then to the Americas with the Spaniards.
SR. MARTÍNEZ (in the kitchen at his home speaking Spanish, with English over): I remember that when I was young when a man wanted to get married, he had to go off and herd sheep and work for maybe a year to earn enough money for the wedding. When the young man had enough money, he came back and asked his father and his mother to ask for the woman he wanted to marry. Then they would invite the young man’s padrinos, his godfather and godmother, to go along to request the girl’s hand.
FR. JEROME: And there they would engage in a conversation with the bride’s father and the menfolk from her family. And this would always concern itself with how good relations were between the families and things of that nature. And finally as they were getting ready to leave, they would leave a letter, which would be the actual request for the girl’s hand.
SR. MARTÍNEZ (Close up on the hands of Sr. Martínez picking up a letter): I have here the letter from when one of my sisters, Amada Martínez, was asked for. And it said the following: “El Rito, New Mexico, 1909 . . . (Close up of pages of the letter, with reader’s voice, in Spanish): “Siendo por la Alta y sabía Providencia del Criador, mi humilde hijo habiendose inclinado a las bellas y finas cualidades que adornan a la ilustre Señorita hija de Ustedes; me ha suplicado solicite la mano de vestra hija para que sean unidos en los lazos indisolubles del Sacramento del Matrimonio…”
(Subtitles, as Sr. Martínez finishes the letter: By God’s will I tell you of my humble son’s inclination toward the fine and beautiful qualities adorning the illustrious Señorita, your daughter. He has implored me to request her hand that they be united in the indissoluble bonds of Holy Matrimony. . . . Old dance music comes up under the closing of the letter and as Sra. Ortega crosses and enters her house.)
SRA. PRESCILIANA ORTEGA (speaking in Spanish, with English translation, in the interior of her home as the camera pans left along plants in the window, to a close-up of her hands crocheting, and tilts up to her face): My name is Presciliana Ortega . . . I was born in the canyon of Vallecitos. One day I was playing chueco, a ball game with the married girls, and my future husband was watching the game. The girls teased me: “That boy is going to ask for you,” they said. Well, I found this out through my girl friends and not because I met him. I didn’t know what to think—whether to get married or not. (Close up on her hands.) And then his family came, and after the people left, I was told that the boy had asked for my hand.
FR. JEROME: About a week later, the menfolk of the bride’s family had had enough time to deliberate the answer—and hopefully had consulted the bride. In any case, they would go back to visit the groom’s family and deliver the answer. And again they would talk about the good relations between the two families and how it would be of benefit, or whatever. And then they would leave the answer. And if it was an affirmative answer, it would be a letter with the “yes” in it, the agreement; and then if it was to be a negative answer, a “no,” they would still leave a gift. But in this case it would be a calabaza, a pumpkin. In all these deliberations, the word “yes” or “no” was never spoken, so as to preserve the dignity of everyone involved.
SRA. ORTEGA: (in Spanish, with English translation) When we were planning on marrying, then they brought me the little trunk with the dowry. (Slow zoom in upon the trunk; she lifts the wedding dress and holds it): They brought me clothes, they brought me necklaces, rings. They brought combs, scissors, needles—everything one would need. . . (She closes the trunk lid.) The wedding dress, the stockings and white slippers—that’s what they brought me. (Sra. Ortega seated in an armchair, crocheting): The day of the prendorio they had a little feast—and after, they joined us together with a rosary. The groom gave me the rosary with which we were to be betrothed. They introduced the groom to my people, and they introduced me to his. I met them there for the first time that day. (Close-up of wedding party in horse-drawn buggy, interior of the church, and marriage license.) We went to get married in the Church of El Rito—San Juan Nepomuceno. We were married on February 12, 1912. I was fifteen years old.
CECILIA MARTÍNEZ (Dissolve to close up, turning magazine pages, then a sequence of shots—the fitting of Cecilia’s wedding dress): When I first met William we were in high school, and we were dating for about two years when he gave me my promise ring. I was very surprised when William asked me—to marry him. I didn’t give him an answer right away. Then a couple of days later he asked me again. I told him I talked to my parents, but I’m still indecided. I want to finish my school—and I don’t want to have children right away. I want to work for a while. But all of a sudden, I knew we were making plans. We just kind of—I guess I just told him “yes.” (Close up of William inside a car, driving.) I like a lot of respect from a guy, and William made me feel like he had that respect.
WILLIAM ROMERO (over scenes of passing landscape seen through car windshield): I was with my parents the night we went to go ask for Cecilia’s hand in marriage. Everybody seemed like they were nervous. And I didn’t really know the procedure. But my dad—I guess he had heard how it was supposed to be—and he just outright and asked them, and they accepted—right away. (Close up) I would like to just be—be happy with my wife, and any children, and our families to be in peace. Eventually I’d like to be a rancher—live off the land. I love freedom. That’s why I chose El Rito to live in, stay in. I had the option to live in the city, but I wouldn’t be happy there, and I know Cecilia wouldn’t be happy there.
FR. JEROME (over village shots): The Hispanic way of life prevalent here changed over time. The last major change came after World War II. The service men who had returned after having served in that war had seen a larger world beyond these walls and valleys of New Mexico. (Exterior of a hall where bridal shower is being held; a woman enters with a gift.) And the customs surrounding marriage and other life events were forgotten, because they wanted to be so American now, and to reject their past. (Interior, with shots of the shower.) Young people today are realizing that we can be American and still be Hispanic. They’ve begun to be very proud of their language, their customs, their faith, and their culture. (The bride’s great-grandmother is led to the table for greeting, then away.) And now they are bringing back those customs that were observed for so many years and then forgotten: like for example the asking for the bride in the traditional way—the beautiful rituals of the wedding ceremony itself. They’re beginning to find more and more meaning in all these things. (Interior of Trampas church—arana with burning candles.)
NARRATOR: In the home chapels and churches wedding celebrations created some of life’s most poignant moments. (Interior of the church at Cordova, with altar screen.) Bride and groom would kneel at the altar, holding candles, with their padrinos, the godparents, for the priest’s blessing. (Close up of candle in painted holder, to carved santo.) Each rite of passage required padrinos, chosen from family and friends. (Dissolve to marriage records book bound in bison skin and to turning pages.) The relationship with godparents—compadrazgo—wove into the family and community a lifelong supportive network. (Sequence of retablos and santos.) Human relationships were based on spiritual ideals. On rough hewn boards they painted the saints of their particular devotion . . . the bultos they carved from the cottonwood and aspen trees around here. For lives to be joined in marriage, St. Joseph reigned as patron saint of the family; the Virgin Mary was the ideal of human purity; and the Holy Family was the model for human families on earth.
(Dissolve to exterior of the church, with church bells ringing and ambient sounds of guests arriving. A girl fastens a paper flower on a car antenna. Guests walk toward the church door. A photo is taken of bridesmaid and groomsman. All go into the church. Interior: family members arrive. Close-up of date on the ceiling. Acolyte lights candle. Shots of attendants and padrinos moving down aisle. Choir music up: “Buenos Días, Señor.” Parents escorting Cecilia down the aisle; they meet William and his parents. The novios continue forward to chairs placed in front of the altar.)
FR. JEROME (camera shoots the scene from the balcony): Good afternoon to all of you and welcome to the wedding of William and Cecilia today. On behalf of William and Cecilia, we’d like to really extend our gratitude for your being here this afternoon. (Medium close up.) En la nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espíritu Santo. Amen. (William and Cecilia, side angle) My dear friends, William and Cecilia, you have come together in this beautiful church of San Juan Nepomuceno, your parish church, so that the Lord may seal and strengthen your love in the presence of the church’s minister, myself, and this community—your friends and relatives. William, do you take Cecilia to be your wife? Do you promise to be true to her in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, (close up of parents’ faces) to love her and honor her all the days of your life?
WILLIAM: I do. (Close up of William and Cecilia.)
FR. JEROME: Cecilia, do you take William to be your husband? Do you promise to be true to him in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, (close ups of bridesmaids and families) to love him and honor him all the days of your life?
CECILIA: I do. (William and Cecilia turn toward Fr. Jerome.)
FR. JEROME: William and Cecilia, you have declared your consent before God and His Holy Catholic Church. May the Lord fill you with every blessing. (Fr. Jerome places his stole over their joined hands.) May you always remember that what God has joined together here today man must never divide. (Close up of madrina.) Ya ahora los padrinos de lazo van a poner sobre las cabezas de los novios el rosario benecido. . . . (Padrino and madrina place the lazo over the heads of the bride and groom.) The ritual of the lazo came to us from Spain through Mexico—the bride’s padrino would place the rosary over the heads of the bride and groom as their engagement. (Medium shot of William and Cecilia.) It’s also a good reminder that they can’t walk away too far from each other without hurting each other, no? (Medium close up of the arras in the padrino’s hand.) Also, teníamos más antes una costumbre de las arras. . . . (Fr. Jerome blesses the arras, then the padrino passes it to William.) We ask Your blessing upon these arras that they may be always a sign of respect and physical support that this young couple will give to each other the rest of their lives. (Close up, the arras passes from William to Cecilia; she opens and holds the small box in her hands.)
WILLIAM: Cecilia, I give these to you as a sign of my respect and support.
CECILIA: I will accept them and use them wisely. (Long shot of madrinas rising. Close up of William and Cecilia, profiles.)
FR. JEROME: We’re going to be asking the parents and family of William and Cecilia to come and give them la bendición—and give them their blessing, joined to the blessing of the Holy Church. (Choir music, with medium shot of William, Cecilia, madrina, and Cecilia’s mother. The parents bless the novios. Close up of the altar screen image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Quick dissolve to three candle flames.) From their baptismal candles, William and Cecilia light the most important candle in the church, the Christ candle of Easter, as a symbol of new light and hope for all of us through their lives together. (Fr. Jerome moves to replace the large candle on the stand. Close up of the candle flame.) The mass is ended. Let us all go in peace.
CONGREGATION’S RESPONSE: Thanks be to God. (Church bells ringing. Dissolve to exterior of the church, as William and Cecilia come out the door, arm in arm. (Music up: “Las Mañanitas.” Shots of two women with cameras, musicians with guitars, Cecilia being kissed in receiving line, William, Lupita, Fr. Jerome talking with parishioners.)
FR. JEROME: There’s no such thing in an Hispanic village as a small wedding, or a small anything for that matter, because the whole village is related in one way or the other. (Long shot of crowd in churchyard. Sr. Martínez passes by with small grandson.)
SR. MARTÍNEZ (in Spanish, with English translation): When they came out of the church, well, they got in their wagons and buggies, and they would go to the house of the bride. (Long shot, truck, cars, moving away down the road. Interior of the school gymnasium, balloons. Wedding party comes into the gym, in rhythm to la marcha.)
FR. JEROME: It was the custom to fire shots, and the people would come out to meet them with musicians playing a violin and guitar. (Music: old style marcha. Segue of old marcha and marcha played on steel guitars by local musicians, Los Rancheros del Norte.) The wedding celebration began with the marcha, a kind of triumphal march of this new family, introducing them to the assembled company. (Sequence of shots of la marcha: lines circle, form a tunnel of raised hands as others pass beneath. Children look on.)
BAND LEADER OF LOS RANCHEROS DEL NORTE (calling out): If you want to dance, you’ll have to dance with the bride or the groom, and it’s gonna cost you! (Montage of the “dollar dance’ with changing partners pinning money on the clothing of the bridge and groom.)
NARRATOR: The valse de los novios is a time to express support and good wishes for the new couple. (Teenagers look on.)
BAND LEADER: Ladies and gentlemen, the food is ready! So anyone that’s hungry, you’re welcome to get a bite to eat. (Sequence of shots of the feast: food served onto plates, guests waiting to be served, the bridal table.)
FR. JEROME: After the religious observance, then they would go to a sala, a large hall, where they would continue the celebration. And there would be a feast of every possible food and delicacy that could be rustled up. And everybody was welcome, the whole village was welcome. And this was of course, to mirror the celestial feast of heaven.
BAND LEADER (long shot of assembling crowd): If anyone would like to join in the entriega, welcome.
NARRATOR (over sequence of shots of the entriega, guests, singer, coins tossed into a plastic bowl, families, padrinos, and novios): No wedding was considered complete until the entriega was sung. The traditional verses, both humorous and serious, echoed the wedding ceremony, instructing the couple and blessing their families, each member by name.
SOCORRO HERRERA, SINGING THE ENTRIEGA:
Dicen que de un casorio
la entriega es lo más bonito.
Hoy que echo en la bendición
padres, padrinos y abuelitos.
Novia, aquí hoy te entriego,
ya se te llego el día.
Te miras tú tan solita
como la Virgen María.
William, aquí hoy te entriego,
te vengo a felicitar.
Ya se te acabó todito,
de cuello que van a traer.
A los padres de estos novios
aquí los vengo a apreciar.
Hoy entriegan a sus hijos,
Dios se los ha de prestar.
Los padrinos y madrinas
ya saben su obligación.
Ya yo cansé a sus ahijados
échenles la bendición.
They say that in a wedding
the “entriega” is the most beautiful part.
Today I include in the blessing
parents, relatives, and godparents.
Bride, here today I give you over,
at last the day has come for you.
You look so alone
like the Virgin Mary.
William, here today I give you over,
I come to congratulate you.
Now everything is finished for you—
they’ve got you by the collar.
To the parents of these newlyweds
here I come to give you praise.
Today you give over your children,
that God will entrust you with.
The godfathers and godmothers
already know their obligation.
I already tired out their godchildren,
you give them the blessing.
NARRATOR (as kneeling newlyweds receive blessings from their families and padrinos): Human bonds are interwoven in song as bride and groom are given to each other, as each family receives a new son or daughter; as padrinos, novios, and familias are joined together with new spiritual ties.
SR. MARTÍNEZ (over shots of assembled guests): Later that night would be the dance—the waltzes, redondos, two-steps, schottisches, and the varsoviana. It was beautiful! (Music up, the varsoviana, shots of this dance, of small child given a balloon, balloons hanging overhead, and the dance floor where William and Cecilia dance, the single couple on the floor. Segue to closing music.)
NARRATOR: The roots of Hispanic marriage go back to an early Christian age; the celebration has changed with time and place—yet continues to make order of the world—and sustain the social harmony. (Music continues, with closing sequence of shots of dancing.)
CELEBRACIÓN DEL MATRIMONIO
El Rito, New Mexico
Script Editor/Editora de Guión
Padre Jerome Martínez
Novia Cecilia Martínez
Novio William Romero
Padrinos Rudy y Lidia Martínez
Roberto y Roberta Valdez
Abuelos Sr. José Rómulo Martínez
Sra. Verónica Campos
Sra. Presciliana Ortega
Padres y Familia
De la novia Joe Canuto y Lovie Martínez
y del novio Abedón y Florinda Trunillo
Acompañantes de los novios
Jesucita Trujillo y el Coro del Iglesia
Bodas de Santa Fe
La Comunidad de El Rito, Nuevo México
Cipriano Vigil Maestro y Musicólogo
Socorro Herrera Cantante del Casorio
Vicente Montoya y Margarito Olivas
Los Rancheros del Norte
Padre Jerome Martínez
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and The Taylor Museum
Denver Art Museum
Fine Arts Library, University of New Mexico
Millicent Rogers Museum
Museum of International Folk Art
Museum of New Mexico, Photo Archives
Church of San Antonio, Córdova
Church of San Francisco, Ranchos de Taos
Church of San Juan Nepomuceno, El Rito
Church of Santa Cruz de la Cañada
Church of Santo Tómas, Trampas
El Santuario, Chimayó
Archdiocese of Santa Fe
Southwest Hispanic Research Institute
National Endowment for the Arts, Folk Arts Program
New Mexico Arts Division
New Mexico Humanities Council, An Affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities
Southwest Alternate Media Project
© Margaret Hixon, 1986
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