This Holy Family

It’s Christmas Eve in 1962 in a small town in Michoacán, Mexico, and the tight-knit community is rehearsing for their annual pastorela. In this traditional folk drama, a group of shepherds try to reach the city of Bethlehem to meet baby Jesus by following a bright star that is guiding their way. They are stopped by Satan, who tries to tempt them off their path, but Saint Michael the Archangel defends them from the prince of evil. While some of the older members of the community have performed almost every role over the years, 7-year-old Rafael will be participating in his very first pastorela this year.

The town’s plaza is decorated for the festivities, and townspeople are dressed as angels, some as shepherds. Renata and Lupita are best friends, and their husbands are away in the United States, working in the Bracero Visa Program to help support their families. This is the first time they will be separated for the holidays.


Meet the Characters


Laurentino has worked as a bracero for the last few years, but his time in the United States each season is getting longer and longer as more work comes in. It is 1962, and even though the Bracero Visa Program will end in 1964, he wants to work as much as he can to provide for his family.



Renata is a young woman of 28 years. She is the wife of Laurentino and mother of their 7-year-old, Rafael. She and Rafael have stayed in Michoacán while Laurentino works in the United States under the Bracero Visa Program.


Lupita is Renata’s close friend, and her husband Chucho also works as a bracero with Laurentino. She and Chucho have two children, Silvio and Araceli.


Rafael is only 7 years old and has grown up with his father going to the United States for a few months every year. His father’s time away from home gets longer and longer each year—this will be Rafael’s first Christmas without his father in town.


Chucho is Laurentino’s exuberant best friend, and he goes to the United States with Laurentino as a bracero every year.


Aba, a man of 60 years, is Chucho’s father. He has lived his entire life in their small town, but he hardly knew his parents, who died as young fighters in the Mexican Revolution.


Silvio is the 11-year-old son of Lupita and Chucho.


Araceli is the 9-year-old daughter of Lupita and Chucho. She and her older brother are very close, and she loves being part of the annual Christmas pastorela play.

Father Matías

Father Matías is a priest who leads the town’s annual Christmas pastorela play.


Josefina is a woman in her 50’s and Renata’s mother. She is now a widow and has raised Renata to have faith in the strength of one’s family.

The Woman

A woman who comes to town in search of the butterflies.

The Mariachis

The town mariachis play the guitar, the guitarrón, and the vihuela, and play an integral part of the town’s pastorela.