Arts, Culture & Media

Mexican holiday traditions

(How commercialized is Christmas in Mexico?) It's not as over the top as I thought it might be. There were some of the typical things you might expect, lots of holiday promotions and inflatable snowmen and the such. What impressed was how people got involved in the religious aspects of the holiday season. (So how long does that go on for?) The Christmas season in Mexico begins December 16th but a lot of attention is paid towards December 12th, the Feast of the Virgin Guadalupe and everyone was celebrating. (Tell us about this Feast.) it's important on the Mexican calendar. Mexico is largely a Catholic country but that wasn't always the case. Back when the Spanish first came to Mexico missionaries were struggling to get converts. The story then goes in 1531 that a poor man was hurrying to mass in Mexico City when the Virgin Mary appeared before him and instructed him to build a temple where she stood. So a temple was built and Mary has become an important symbol to Mexico�almost as important as Jesus himself. When I was there, there were candlelight processions morning and night. Then in one city there were parades twice a night. It was pretty wild but even more wild were these torch relays in honor of the Virgin Mary. Individuals or teams will travel to the basilica in Mexico City well before December 12th to offer prayers to Mary. And then they walk back the way they came, and it's become somewhat of a sport. It's just really wild and they're going back to some far flung villages. (So what happens on Christmas Eve and Day?) Christmas Day is not big because everyone is celebrated out. But the celebrations go on into January. The community effort that goes into this, we can't compare it to anything that goes on here.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

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