The Virgen de Guadalupe, La Morenita, La Virgencita, La Reina de México, la Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe

Whatever you want to call her this was her big weekend!

This past 2 weeks has been a series of events, both religious and festive leading up to this weekend! 
But definitely not ending with Sunday. 
The holiday season here in Mexico begins December 1 (Guadalupe) and ends January 6 (3 Kings Day).

La Virgen de Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego on December 9th 1531.  She brought to Juan Diego, and the devastated indigenous (Mexica) population a message of comfort, love, and compassion.  Her only request was that a place of worship be built upon the sacred hill at Tepeyac.   Juan Diego had to go to what is now Mexico City to plead his/her case before the bishop.  It was not until his 3rd visit with a miracle of roses and her likeness emblazoned upon his tunic that he was believed. 

So fast forward to now; leading up to December 12 (the day of the miracle) there are a multitude of events transpiring all over Mexico and indeed in any area of the world where Mexicans now reside.

In fact here in my neighborhood of San Sebastian here in Merida Centro I was provided with a small folio with dates and neighbors homes in which the nightly novena would be held.  These novenas began on December 1.  Last night as we arrived home from our outing to la iglesia de San Cristobal there were parades of the likeness of Guadalupe and many cohetes (firecrackers/bottlerockets).

In every community throughout Mexico there is a church designated the Guadalupana.  This is where the image/effigy/statue of Guadalupe resides and where the annual pilgrimage to praise, thank, and beseach Guadalupe are made.  Here in Merida the Guadalupana church is San Cristobal.

Depending on the distance the days leading up to the 12th herald the arrival at the Guadalupana of the antorchistas.  These are the people who travel (in open trucks, by bicycle, by horseback, by motorcycle, by running and/or walking in relays) from all over the yucatan peninsula.  They come to pay their respects, to thank the virgen for some perceived miracle or grace in their personal lives, and sing praise to Guadalupe.

And of course there are the locals that come from all over Merida  to pay their respects to Guadalupe at the Guadalupana as well.  The church entry and street are packed with people waiting to get in.

Friends Joanna and Jorge, who operate a college here in Merida are testing out a new series of lectures on Mexican Customs and Culture as part of their Life Long Learning program. This series is mostly for English speaking participants.   Yesterday there was a presentation on Guadalupe.  You can read Joanna's impressions of the lecture here.

The lecture itself was quite interesting giving me a lot of history and background that I had not yet bothered to discover on my own.   I especially liked finding out about all the symbology of the Guadalupe images.  After the lecture and a few questions we all walked en masse down to San Cristobal.

The lecture group was there for about an hour; Tom and I stayed and met up with friends Jonna and Mimi, Theresa, and a new acquaintance Trish.  We spent several hours watching the antorchistas arrive.  And of course the ever present crowds of vendors and gawkers.

for some background reading try wikipedias

or friend Joanna's

or here

OH - January 6th is  Día de los Reyes, or 3 Kings Day. This is Epiphany on the church calendar, the 12th day after Christmas, and is when the 3 Kings (Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltazar) came bearing gifts for baby Jesus. In Mexico, this is when children traditionally receive gifts. Some children also receive gifts from Santa Claus, but Santa is an imported custom, the traditional day for Mexican children to receive gifts remains January 6.

I've been trying to get this post out since Sunday morning but am having issues with loading the photos - so here's what I can coax, and as I am able will update with more.