Crosses in Latin American Folk Art

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Milagros cross, Mexico
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Cross handmade from fibers, Mexico


Gossypia has been selling Latin American folk art in Old Town Alexandria for over 40 years. One of the most prevalent symbols found in Latin American folk art, and folk art from around the world, is the depiction of the Christian cross. As the Easter season approaches, we’re reminded of how crosses came to be hung in Christian homes, and how this led to their prevalence in Latin American folk art today.

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Cross with Milagros, Mexico

In early Christian art, it was rare to portray the crucifixion scene other than in text. Since the crucifixion scene depicts the execution of Jesus, many early Christians thought it as not being suitable for use in art. In the fourth century AD, the mother of Constantine I, St. Helena, claimed to have found the True Cross, or the remnants of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.  The site of Jesus’ crucifixion became a pilgrimage site for early Christians, and the cross and crucifixion scene were soon used on souvenirs from the Holy Land.¹ The depiction of the crucifixion and the cross became more common in the fifth and sixth centuries, and from there, Christians began using the cross on household items, artwork, and hung in their homes to signal their devotion.²

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Cross with Milagros from Antigua, Guatemala


Latin America is today home to more than 425 million Catholics, about 40% of the world’s total Catholic population.³ As a result, crosses are often found in Latin American folk art and are hung in the homes of Catholics throughout the region.Latin Americans also have influenced cross and crucifixion art in the form of milagros (“miracles”) crosses. Milagros are small charms, often made of metal, which include symbols often relevant to a specific saint or religious figure. The symbols are used often to focus attention in prayer to a specific request, or for protection.

At Gossypia, we’ve had a large collection of Latin American folk art in Old Town for many years, and have a wide array of folk art crosses available for this Easter season. You can see more photos of them on our Instagram,

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Cross Handmade from Fibers, Mexico
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Cross, Barbara Benham Ryan









  1. Crucifixion in the arts, Wikipedia,
  2. “Why have Crucifixes and Crosses in the Home?”,,
  3. 3. Religion in Latin America, Pew Research,


Gossypia Gift Guide

The 2016 Gossypia Gift Guide
Great Gifts Under $100!

Still looking for the perfect holiday gift? At Gossypia, we’ve created a 2016 Holiday Gift Guide to help you find the perfect gift for your loved one in Old Town Alexandria. Here are some of our favorites this year:

3fced544-08e9-47ca-a4ce-0583e713a7c7This beautifully made top from Toofan is the perfect pick for holiday parties.


These socks from Ozone and all wool Nusatara scarf make wonderful gifts on their own, but look even better as a set!
$19.99 (socks) and $38.00 (scarf)


These cozy knit hats from Shirleah make a fashionable and  affordable gift for braving the winter cold. 


Available in a variety of designs and colors, these FireFly earrings are the perfect gift! 
Prices vary. Earrings shown are $56-$64. 


A very popular choice for our customers, these fashionable (and sturdy!) Urban Oxide purses are the perfect gift for the woman on your list who’s always on the move and in need of a great purse that can keep up!


These beautiful handmade earrings from Ayala Bar make the perfect gift, with different designs to match all styles.
Prices vary by design. $60-$200


A stylish coat by Avalin will keep your loved one warm throughout the winter.


From our extensive collection of handmade gifts, this mirror from Peru is both unique and beautiful.


These cozy fingerless gloves are perfect for the texter on your list!

img_8152This plush nativity set makes a fantastic gift for children, and is one of our most popular sets!

Didn’t find the gift you’re looking for on this list? Visit us for more great gift ideas! Gossypia is located at 325 Cameron Street in Old Town Alexandria, VA.

Nativity Sets: The Story Behind the Perfect Christmas Gift!


For many, December means a time of giving gifts, decorating homes for the holidays, and celebrating with loved ones. At Gossypia, one of our favorite traditions is to decorate our homes by putting up our nativity sets in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Nativity sets make a great gift for those celebrating Christmas, and are the perfect way to make a home feel ready for Christmastime.


Nativity sets as we know them today are based on a tradition originated by St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century. After visiting the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem, St. Francis felt awestruck and inspired. He wanted to bring these same feelings to the people of Italy at Christmastime, in order to place an emphasis on the celebration of the birth of Jesus as the origin for the holiday. He conceived the idea of a live nativity in order to recreate the nativity scene, using real humans and animals as the participants, and his nativity scene was blessed by the pope. Similar displays became popular throughout European churches, and the humans and animals were soon replaced by statues. In the 18th century, King Charles III began collecting the increasingly elaborate Nativity scenes, and others soon did the same.


Today, nativity sets are used in homes, churches, and other locations to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmastime. At Gossypia, we feature a collection of nativity sets from around the world, with many priced below $100. Nativity sets would make a perfect gift at Christmastime, and would also make a wonderful addition to any household decorated for Christmas!



¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!


At Gossypia, we celebrate Día de los Muertos with an in-store celebration every year for our customers, featuring Day of the Dead refreshments, traditional music, and door prizes. Our event is unique to this area, along with our collection of handmade Latin American folk art, and we love bringing this celebration of life and death to Old Town each year. Many at the celebration will ask us, “What exactly is Day of the Dead?”

Día de los Muertos celebrations in Mexico are based on rituals among the pre-Columbian and Aztec peoples. Rituals celebrating deceased ancestors have been observed in pre-Columbian cultures in Mexico for as long as 2,500-3000 years. The Aztecs celebrated the goddess Mictecacihuatl each August, also known as “The Lady of the Dead”.


The Aztec and pre-Columbian cultures viewed death as a continuation of life, embracing death in a way that the Spaniards considered to be sacrilegious. When the Spanish arrived in Mexico, they sought to combine this celebration with Catholic beliefs, which is the version of Día de los Muertos that we see today. Celebrated in most regions of Mexico today, the celebration has progressed to honor deceased loved ones from October 31- November 2.

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During Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico, celebrants visit cemeteries and build private altars (ofrendas) to their deceased loved ones, often decorated with favorite memorabilia, photos, sugar skulls and flowers, typically marigolds. People also will build ofrendas in their homes, which are often decorated with religious symbols such as Christian crosses and pictures of the Virgin of Guadalupe. La Calavera Catrina was a famous print created in the early 20th century picturing an upper-middle class female skeleton, which is seen often during Day of the Dead celebrations.

At Gossypia, we have dozens of Day of the Dead items, many of which are handcrafted in Mexico. You will find a unique collection of Latin American folk art here as well. We invite you to partake in our Día de los Muertos celebration, which will take place from October 29 through October 31 at Gossypia (409 Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA). We will have traditional Day of the Dead refreshments to enjoy. This year, all purchases made between October 29-31 will be entered to win a $50 gift card.

Happy Day of the Dead from Gossypia!

Making the Case for the Budget-Friendly Bride

!cid_023DBE77-7D23-4ED2-ABE2-0aAF8290A28D1@MonCheriBridalsIncrev.jpgA study by The Knot* polled 18,000 American couples who walked down the aisle in 2015. Their study found that newlyweds spent an average of $32,641 on their wedding. In the Washington, D.C. area, the cost of weddings was even higher: $37,704 (not including the honeymoon!). Of those prices, wedding dress prices averaged $1,469. At Gossypia, we’re making a case for the budget-friendly wedding dress to help keep your costs down without sacrificing style.

Gossypia began selling wedding gowns in Old Town Alexandria, VA in 1972. For 44 years, Gossypia’s small collection of wedding dresses have been a popular choice for brides who are searching for the perfect informal or destination wedding gown. There are dozens of dresses in stock, many of which are already priced !cid_6753B394-5031-4301-8346-293647698E8B@MonCheriBridalsInc.jpgbelow $100.

From October 1 – 16, 2016, Gossypia will be hosting a bridal sale with large discounts on already budget-friendly dresses. Full-priced wedding dresses will be priced at 30% off, and already-reduced wedding dresses on sale will be priced at an additional 50% off the sale price.

If you or someone you know is searching for the perfect wedding dress at a low price, please make an appointment with Gossypia (703-836-6969) before they fill up!


(Please note that Sue Wong wedding dresses will not be included in this sale. Wedding dresses pictured not guaranteed to be available.)


Looking to stay cool in style this summer? Look no further than our selection of kurti


For those who may not have heard of them, a kurta is an upper garment for men and women, originating in South Asia. It is traditionally worn in Pakistan, Bangladesh and IMG_20160425_103531India and is also popular in Nepal. A kurta worn by females is called a kurti, which is traditionally shorter than the version worn by men.

The straight-cut kurta is a loosely fitted shirt, falling either just above or somewhere below the knee of the wearer. They were traditionally worn with loose-fitting white kurtipants as well, but are now also worn with jeans. To keep cool in the summer, we would recommend trying this beautiful garment with leggings or skinny jeans. To carry this style into the early days of fall, we would recommend pairing with a colorful shawl. Kurtas can be worn both as casual everyday wear and as formal dress.

Imported kurtas were extremely fashionable in the United States in the 1960s. They fell from favor briefly, but are now again coming back into popular fashion. They are popular because they are cool as well as attractive, and a perfect way to beat the summer heat in style.


When customers ask for versatile jewelry that can make an outfit truly shine, our go-to is to recommend a piece of turquoise from Gossypia’s selection.

Tur2016-04-12 09.50.17 1.jpgquoise has an incredible history which spans across many cultures as the semi-precious stone of choice, believed by some cultures to even have supernatural powers.

The principle areas where turquoise has historically been found are Persia (modern-day Iran), Mexico, the southwestern United States, and China. While the color “turquoise” has become synonymous with the hue of this stone, the color of turquoise stones can actually vary greatly from region to region. It varies from a very pale blue hue in Persia, to the deep green and bright familiar turquoise color in the U.S. and Mexico. The U.S. variation of turquoise is well known for its black veins, known as “matrix”, on the stones.

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The Aztecs are perhaps the culture that is best known for transforming turquoise into their elaborate jewelry, and the Toltec people before them. It was used by priests in Aztec ceremonies and worn by royalty. Present-day Mexico carries on the tradition as one of the most popular makers of exquisite turquoise jewelry, typically paired with sterling silver.

We have stunning samples of sterling silver and turquoise jewelry available at Gossypia, created by upscale jewelry designer Federico. Federico is a Zapotec artist from Oaxaca, who now designs his beautiful turquoise jewelry in the western United States.

In addition to the pieces by Federico, we have a stunning selection of authentic Native American turquoise jewelry, such as those designed and made at the Santo Domingo Pueblo. We also have a large selection of turquoise earrings, bracelets, and necklaces from around the world.