MILAGROS, miracles in Spanish, tiny metal or wooden charms, have had religious connotations in Latin cultures for centuries. These petite trinkets were typically shaped in the form of a body part (arm, leg, eye, heart etc.) and presented to altars in places of worship, along with a prayer for precise healing. Artists have become enchanted by these tiny works of art and in recent times have embellished wooden crosses, hearts and plaques with these miraculous trinkets. Now it is common to see creative interpretations using these whimsical charms.
Years ago, I couldn’t resist a quirky metal tree embellished with larger metal cutouts, that were clearly inspired by the traditional milagros. Finding the tree a little too simple for my taste, I began to personalize it with the addition of items that were memorable to my family and friends. (I must admit that this idea was the brainchild of a creative friend’s husband..thanks B!) Our Milagro Tree has, over the years, become adorned with keychains, senior rings, ticket stubs, pet tags and even my beloved mother’s wedding ring. In our Texas casa, I actually have two Milagro Trees, that are showcased in deep niches created just for them. Friends have even embraced our tradition and they gather memories of their on and bring to our tree. The trees actually are somewhat of a catch-all for those trinkets that might otherwise end up in the kitchen junk drawer. But for our family, the items offer a constant reminder of memories of growing children and trips that took our breath away.
In Mexico, we have created a Milagro Tree from a found piece of driftwood, now topped with a shiny varnish. Nailed to a tiny shelf, this twist on our metal trees has become a focal point in our Mexican casa. Local friends have caught on quickly to my vision and have begun to deliver personal trinkets to the tree. Keychains have been hung, a tiny Catrina doll stands guard and a feather embellished candle (perhaps dropped form a passing cruise ship) have already found their way to this impractical decor. Cherished items also include handwritten thank you notes and a shell carved with Isla Mujeres. As the perfect backdrop for this tree is a collection of wooden hearts and crosses embellished with the original style milagro.
It is easily understandable that for many, our cherished Milagro Trees may seem a bit “busy” or even junkie. Art has always been in the eye of the beholder. But for our family, the trees offer a quick glance into times past and the anxious anticipation of the next memory to appear on the Milagro Tree. -E