The town of Chignahuapan, in the state of Puebla, is known for its traditional artisanry. In particular, the making of Christmas spheres through glass blowing has earned the town the moniker of “Christmas spheres capital of Mexico”.
The production of Christmas ornaments is the main economic force in Chignahuapan, as over 70 million spheres are produced in more than 200 hundred workshops every year. The Fair of the Christmas Tree and Spheres is the town’s main event, one that brings it together and gathers families from all over the region.
One man’s legacy
As hard as it is to imagine it today, nobody was making glass blown spheres in Chignahuapan fifty years ago. A man named Rafael Mendez Nuñez opened the first sphere factory –it was a small business with just a few craftsmen.
Mr. Mendez was very active in teaching the inner workings of his factory and the technicalities of glass blowing to the people of Chignahuapan. He trained many young men and women who went on to open their own workshops and factories, which was the beginning of an industry that keeps the town going every year.
The journey of the sphere
Spheres are born at blowpipes, through which the artisans shape the molten glass with air from their lungs, no less. The whole process of defining the shape, size and thickness of a sphere happens in 30 seconds.
Then, a sphere is put aside until it cools. A first coat of paint is applied, usually a matte color. It is at the decoration stage that a sphere really comes to life, with its own personality and theme. With oleum paint and glitter, it is given intricate designs of bells, angels and nature, among many others.
When the artisans are done, a little hook is put on top of the sphere before it’s packed and sent to one of many Christmas markets in Mexico.
Much more than spheres
There is a lot to check out at Chignahuapan other than the famous spheres. The town is surrounded by stunning natural scenery, such as mountains, rivers and exuberant vegetation. Also, don’t miss the hot springs sites, where you can relax in the open and enjoy a steamy bath.
In the downtown area, you’ll find the extraordinary Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol church, with its fascinating facade decoration, that follows the lively, indigenous baroque style.
Watch for the colorful, mudejar-style kiosc and the restaurants around the main square, they’re usually great for trying out the regional cuisine.
Visit Chignahuapan this winter and experience the charm and magic of small town Mexico. Friendly reminder: City Express Apizaco is only 35 miles south of Chignahuapan, book with us here!