In Hispanic Catholic households, each year Dec. 12 is a big day throughout Latin America and the United States, especially in Mexico. It is the day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or the Virgin Mary as many know her.
Guadalupanos are the followers who pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is a large symbol of Mexican Catholic pride. She has had a large cultural impact to the point of even having a TV series on Univision called “La Rosa de Guadalupe” with different stories over her miracles to families all around the world.
So how and why is she celebrated on Dec. 12? This story originates back to 1531 in the Hill of Tepeyac in Mexico City. Juan Diego, a peasant, encountered Mary on Dec, 9 and Dec. 12, and she told him to build a church on that hill in her honor. He told the local bishop of her appearances however, the bishop did not believe his story and asked for proof. After returning to the hill, Juan Diego found red roses, which never grew in the winter, that he gathered in his cloak to show the bishop. In addition to the flowers, an image of Lady Guadalupe soon appeared on his cloak, and it was then that the bishop was convinced of the miracle and proceeded with building the church on the hill in her honor.
For me, this holiday is near and dear. My Mexican family will get together the night before at my aunt’s house. She has a large frame of Our Lady of Guadalupe and everyone brings a bouquet of roses and we perform a rosary in her honor. At midnight, we tune in to the livestream of Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to see the big celebration taking place in Mexico City. Many famous singers and groups get together to sing “Las Mañanitas” and “La Guadalupana.”
Because many Catholic immigrants brought their traditions with them when the settled, there are different ways to celebrate the day of Our Lady of Guadalupe throughout the world. One of my favorite ways is through the dances.
A group of dancing Gualupanos called Matachines dance in her honor. The sounds of drums, jara and a guaje accompany the dancers to coordinate the movement. They wear customized vibrant outfits that are hand embroidered with images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and a feathered hair piece. These traditional religious dances come from both Spain and Mesoamerican influence.
To those who celebrate, Happy Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day!