Devotion in the most basic form of housework

The thing that most stood out to be as I started to read the Galvez book Guadalupe In New York was the fact that sweeping is an important aspect of the Mexican community. To me, sweeping is a chore that I try to avoid as much as possible, but is a necessity. That’s all it is; a necessity, something that I would rather not be doing. Sure, it may be a bit therapeutic, but so is taking a nice warm bubble bath. To me, sweeping is more of a simple matter of cleanliness and hygiene and I don’t think I’ve ever given it a second thought. I mean, what is a broomstick good for if not cleaning with it or flying on it?

But reading about the dedication of Marco, and others, who find pride in the job of sweeping around the shrines of their patron saints, whether in the United States or in Spanish-speaking countries (I wasn’t clear if it was still important in Spain and other countries, or just Mexico), was an extremely enlightening experience. That doesn’t mean that I’m about to go become a janitor or something, but the fact that something as simple as sweeping has become a sign of devotion is fascinating. The historical connection, beginning with Phillip II, continued with the Aztec myth about the birth of Huitzilipochtli resulting from sweeping, and continuing to people like Marco, is one of the respect and care that the devotees have towards their respective shrines and saints. Even though Aztecs weren’t Christian, the idea of sweeping being important has been supplanted into a creation myth of theirs in a way to make a connection between the modern Mexican and the ancient history.

I’m not so sure about the idea of sweeping being a devotional tool and a show of how devout someone is, but seeing how it is something that has been intertwined into the historical story of the Mexican people is fascinating.

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