The Jemez Pueblo feast day celebrating Saint Persingula, the patron saint of the Pueblo, is held every year on August 2nd. While some rituals in most feast day celebrations are very private and secret, Palms’ owner, Guy Berger, has been invited to attend this feast several times as a guest of some of the artists we work with, and has provided a first-hand account of his experiences. As there are strict regulations regarding photography of these events, we are unable to provide visuals.
There is an interesting mixture of Catholocism and Native ritual beliefs and practices incorporated throughout many feast days, including this celebration, with ties to the past and thanksgiving for the present. There are two “clans” in Jemez Pueblo, the Turquoise and the Pumpkins, with each sharing responsibility for organizing the required preparation and planning the performances.
The day begins at sun up with a Mass at the Catholic Church in the center of the Pueblo, where the “Pecos Bull” attends. You see, the Jemez people believe they are decedents of some of the people who dwelled at the now abandoned Pecos Pueblo in northeast New Mexico, and show reverence for those who are believed to be their ancestors. The celebration of this feast also features the “corn dance,” which is performed in thanksgiving of a successful harvest. Native American dances are truly an experience, and cannot be adequately put into words. They are beautiful to behold and it is always clear they hold special meaning for the people.
If you’re ever in New Mexico around August 2nd, I would highly recommend you spend some time going to this spectacular feast day whether you’ve attended previously or not. The dance begins at sunrise and lasts until sunset, and is well worth the time.