December 12 is one of Mexico’s most beloved holidays and part of a beautiful tradition to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe (and usually also those whose names are Guadalupe, too!)
According to tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared before Juan Diego in December of 1531. The story says that while he was on his way to church, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared before him on Tepeyac hill. The hill was previously an Aztec temple of worship for goddesses. She appeared before him, speaking to him in his native Nahuatl. She called him closer and expressed her love and care for natives and those who love and seek her, and her wishes to have a temple raised in her honor on Tepeyac hill for her to serve those who are devoted to her. He was to go to Mexico city and tell the bishop of her apparition and request.
Once Juan Diego informed the bishop of what he witnessed, the bishop did not believe him and ignored the request. The Virgin appeared before Juan Diego once again and ordered him to go back to the top of the hill and collect roses, which Juan Diego found strange since the winter soil was infertile. Upon arriving to the top of the hill, he was surprised to find it covered in beautiful flowers which she had miraculously bloomed.
Juan Diego went back to the bishop carrying the roses in his cloak, and standing before him, he opened it to expose not only the flowers, but a holy image of the beautiful Virgin Mary on his tilma. The bishop was convinced of the holy apparition and agreed to have a church built for her on the foot of Tepeyac Hill, which we now know as the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Since then, millions have made the pilgrimage to Tepeyac Hill and the Basilica almost every year since the apparition and it has become a national holiday in Mexico. A day to set aside to honor and celebrate the Virgin Mary and her mercy upon the indigenous people of Mexico and the land that we all know and love and are so proud of being from.
Celebrations for Our Lady of Guadalupe begin on the evening of December 11, with overnight masses across Catholic churches in Mexico and the United States. She is also celebrated with music and food, like many usual Mexican celebrations. Each year, thousands make the pilgrimage to the Basilica and celebrate her with parades, music, food, performances, and even fireworks.
Dia de la Virgen unofficially marks the beginning of the December holiday season, with posadas starting a few days later and Christmas the following week. Don’t forget to celebrate our Virgen Morena and stuff yourself with buñuelos and celebrate another holiday season!