Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe – December 12
On this day people from all over Mexico make their way to Mexico’s chief religious centre at the Basilica of the Virgen of Guadalupe, located in Villa de Guadalupe Hidalgo, a northern neighbourhood of Mexico City. There, they will celebrate the Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) with a mass ceremony and a traditional fair in her honour. The Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe became an national holiday in 1859.
Today, tens of thousands of people travel to Mexico City to visit the place where the Virgin appeared to the Mexican People. The holiday is a national fiesta that includes traditional music and fun attractions. Pilgrims bring presents to the virgin, usually bouquets of flowers while other visitors will perform dances and songs for her. Some pilgirms walk on their knees on the stone street leading to the Basilica, asking for miracles or giving thanks to the virgin for a petition
At the plaza the fiesta starts after the mass ceremony with delicious food, vendors selling crafts and clothes, along with many performances of music and dance. In other parts of Mexico, similar festivities are organized with some unique variations of the celebration. In some places, altars of flowers are built in her honour. Other parts have traditional food prepared like buñuelos, raspados and tortas as well as activities like parades, rodeos, and bullfights.
History of the Celebration
The Story behind this celebration demonstrates how the Catholic faith gained importance in the hearts of the Mexican people. It is a story of miracles and faith which mark a change in the history of Mexico.
The Spaniards, after they conquered Mexico, intended to convert the indigenous indians into catholicism. But the spaniards encountered many difficulties because the Mexican people had existing strong beliefs in their many gods. It wasn’t until the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe and Juan Diego that this started to change.
Juan Diego was a young indigenous Indian walking toward the Hill of Tepeyac on December 12, 1531 when he was stopped by the appearence of the Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary appearing to Juan Diego was a young woman with black hair and dark skin which looked more like an indigenous person. She ordered Juan Diego to go to the Bishop and ask him to build a church at the Hill of Tepeyac. Juan Diego then ran to the Bishop to tell him what the Virgin Mary had told him. The Bishop didn’t believe what this young men was telling him and decided to ignore the petition.
The Virgin Mary appeared again in front of Juan Diego and told him to collect flowers from the top of the hill, but because it was December Juan Diego knew that there was not going to be any flowers at the rocky hill. Upon reaching the top of the hill, Juan Diego was surprised to see that it was covered with colourful and beautiful flowers. Juan Diego collected the flowers using his overcoat and ran again to see the Bishop.
Juan Diego gave the coat full of flowers to the bishop, and here the bishop discovered the image of Virgin Mary’s picture was miraculously traced on the coat. Seeing both the unseasonal flowers and the image of the Virgin, the Bishop realized Juan Diego had told him the truth and The Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe was built on the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico City.