Thanksgiving is over and most of the world is now obsessed, yet again, with Christmas. Today we’re going to talk about the Mexican holiday Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe. Let’s take a moment away from Christmas shopping and Christmas party planning and learn a little about the beautiful culture from which the amazing Mariachi music stems from before you contact us to play at your holiday gatherings.
In Mexico on December 12th, citizens go to the chief religious center at the Basilica of the Virgen of Guadalupe north of Mexico City. They celebrate Our Lady Guadalupe with mass and a fair in her honor. The location is said to be where the Virgin Guadalupe appeared to the people of Mexico, and the celebration in her name features traditional music, attractions, bullfights, rodeos, and overall celebration. Travelers bring gifts (often flowers) and some will perform a special song and dance or walk on their knees on the stone before the Basilica to ask for miracles or give thanks. The fiesta is impressive. Vendors sell food, crafts, and clothing and there are vast numbers of musical and dance performances. You can also find altars for the Virgin or the traditional food like bunuelos, raspados, and tortas.
When Mexico was conquered by the Spanish, the conquerors had every intention of converting the natives to Catholocism, but the preexisting strong beliefs of the Mexican people made that difficult. The turning point for the native Mexican people was the day the Virgin of Guadalupe and Juan Diego arrived. Juan Diego, a native, was walking towards the Hill of Tepeyac on December 12, 1531 and he stopped when he saw the Virgin Mary. She appeared as a young native woman (not like the Virgin Mary in most Catholic interpretations in Europe and America) and told him to go to the Bishop to ask him to build a church at that location, and he obliged. Despite his argument, the Bishop ignored the request.
After the denial of the church, the Virgin Mary appeared once more and told Juan Diego to collect some flowers from the hill. Juan thought this was foolish since there usually are no flowers on the hill in December: but he was wrong. The hill was covered in flowers so he did what was asked of him and gave a coat made from said flowers to the Bishop, thus proving the miracles the Virgin Mary is capable of, and that combined with the presence of the Virgin convinced the Bishop to build the church; The Basilica of the virgin of Guadalupe. This was the major turning point that convinced native people to convert to Catholicism, as the Spanish had been desperately trying to achieve.
If you can’t make it to Mexico for this holy holiday, celebrate on your own here in Tucson. You can hire our Mariachi services for dancing and music for your own local fiesta to honor the Virgin Guadalupe and bring in the Holiday season in a beautiful way. Act fast, December 12th is coming quickly.