Norma Castro laid the familiar figure on the counter before her, next to a basket of poblano peppers. Then, ignoring the twangy bachata music that blared from a nearby market stall, she furrowed her brow, delicately plucked it up and admired it.
Behold, the baby Jesus ”” away from his manger, and in Brooklyn, no less.
For the next half-hour, Ms. Castro plied the skills of a tailor and a surgeon on the infant, a footlong plaster statue. She draped it in layers of shimmering blue silk with gold brocade trim, carefully sewed shut the seams, then gently crowned the infant with a plastic golden halo.
She performs this service for hundreds of statues each year around this time, as Mexican Roman Catholics prepare to celebrate the Feast of Candelaria, or Candlemas, which marks the presentation of the infant Jesus at the temple ”” and the end of the holiday season ”” 40 days after Christmas.