Translated as the “Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe”, this is a Mexican festival observed on the 12th of December every year.
It’s a popular Catholic feast day that commemorates the belief that a man named Juan Diego came across Virgin Mary, the patron saint of Mexico in the city of Mexico itself back in the year of 1531 on the 9th and 12th of December.
This day became a national holiday in the year 1859 and is celebrated in Mexico, America, Philippines and various other places all over the world. This is one of the most important religious events of the liturgical calendar of the Mexico region.
This day is not a federal public holiday in Mexico but it’s a popular religious festival so it’s an optional holiday for many workers. In addition, there’s a holiday for the people in banks and other financial organizations.
The story behind this celebration puts light on the fact as to how the Catholic faith gained popularity in the hearts of the people of Mexico. The Spaniards after conquering Mexico had put in a great deal of force and efforts in trying to convert the indigenous Indians into Catholicism. But it wasn’t until the encounter of Juan Diego with Virgin Mary or Guadalupe that things began to change in the history of Mexico.
The story goes like there was an indigenous Indian called Juan Diego who was walking by the Hill of Tepeyac on a fine day of 9th December, 1531 when he came across Virgin Mary who appeared to be an indigenous young woman to him. She had black hair, dark skin and instructed Juan in the local Nahuatl language to go and tell the Bishop to build a church atop the hill of Tepeyac. Juan ran to the Bishop and told him about Virgin Mary’s order but he didn’t believe him and ignored the command.
Following this, Juan met Virgin Mary again on the 12th of December when she told him to go and collect flowers from the top of the hill but Juan knew that was not possible as it was December and nothing but cacti grew on the rocky terrain. On reaching the top, Juan was amazed to find colorful unseasonal flowers and as per instructions, he collected them in his overcoat and went to the Bishop. On seeing the flowers and the miraculously traced picture of Virgin Mary on the overcoat, the Bishop finally believed him and constructed The Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the hilltop of Tepeyac in Mexico City.
- Celebrations And Traditions
- On this day, people from all parts of Mexico visit The Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe situated on the Tepeyac Hill in a northern neighborhood of Mexico City.
- There is a mass ceremony and a traditional fair in the honor of Virgin Mary and includes traditional musical and fun events.
- Catholics from all over Mexico and other countries make their way to the Basilica to pay pilgrimage and the procession not only consists of faithful and organizers but also dancers.
- Many pilgrims carry gifts and bouquets of flower for Virgin Mary while some travel to the Basilica on their knees asking for a miracle or conveying gratitude for a prayer granted.
- Tens of thousands of people come to the church to pray and children are dressed up in traditional costumes.
- There’s a fair hosted after the mass ceremony which has vendors selling traditional food items like bunuelos, raspados, tortas and also handicraft items and clothes.
- There are events like bullfights, parades and rodeos.
- There is a tradition in Mexico that the children born on this day are christened with the name Guadalupe in honor of Virgin Mary.