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A Journey Into Paradise

Celebrating the Our Lady of Guadalupe Holiday in Mexico

11 December, 2013

Every year in mid December,people throughout Mexico celebrate Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe,a holiday to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe,who is also known as the Virgin Mary. The special day falls on December 12 and celebrates one of the nation’s most popular religious and cultural images,the Virgin of Guadalupe,who is the patron saint of Mexico.

In fact,this is arguably one of the most important national holidays in Mexico. Processions will take place across the country,including tens of thousands of people who will travel to Mexico City in order to attend mass followed by a traditional fair at the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe in honor of this special day. More like a national fiesta,the holiday is celebrated around the country by traditional music and a variety of attractions following mass. Visitors and devotees alike can enjoy the festive atmosphere,which typically offers delicious food,vendors selling crafts,clothing and other items,as well as traditional dance performances.

The tradition can be traced back through the centuries to the morning of December 9,1531,when a simple peasant by the name of Juan Diego saw a vision of the Virgin Mary on a hill near Mexico City close to where the basilica now stands. According to the story,she instructed Diego to build a church at that spot and to collect flowers from the top of the hill,even though none should have been present at that time of year. To his surprise,the hill was indeed covered by colorful blooms,which he collected and brought to the local Bishop. Upon their meeting,the Bishop saw the flowers and also an image of the Virgin Mary that was miraculously emblazoned on his coat,which Diego had used to carry them. The evidence was deemed too great to ignore and the basilica was eventually built in her honor.

Today,devotees bring presents to honor the Virgin and ask for miracles or request specific prayers to be answered. These gifts often take the form of colorful flowers in remembrance of the original vision by Diego,and in some places altars are also built in her honor. Traditional food items for this holiday include bunuelos (a cinnamon-sugar coated fried dough ball),raspados (a type of sweetly flavored Mexican snow cone) and tortas (a large sandwich,often served on a crusty white roll). Other activities that often take place on this special day include parades,rodeos and bullfights.

Have you ever celebrated a holiday in Mexico? If so,share your experiences with other readers in the comments section below!