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Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe is an important Mexican celebration

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Jennie McKeon
/
WUWF Public Media
An altar set up at El Gallo Latin Market for Dia de la Virgen Sunday, Dec. 11.

Catholics are celebrating Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe or Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe today. A national holiday in Mexico, December 12 commemorates the day when the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to an indigenous boy, Juan Diego, in 1531.

Celebrations usually include a time of prayer and fanfare. In Mexico and communities in the U.S., festivities include dance presentations representing the diverse population through Mexico, parades and fireworks. In the Gulf Coast, believers celebrate the day as best as they can with what is available.

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Jennie McKeon
/
WUWF Public Media
The reading of the rosary is a part of Dia de la Virgen.

In Pensacola, celebrations were held last night at El Gallo Latin Market, a traditional midnight celebration St. John Catholic Church and other activities at private residences. Santa Rosa de Lima Catholic Church in Milton celebrated with a presentation by matachines from Walton County and St. Patrick’s Church in Robertsdale, Alabama typical folkloric dance presentations were offered.

The story of the virgin is an important part of Mexico's history and culture. It is also a symbol of Mexican's Catholic faith. The lore is that Juan Diego, a Native American living at the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, was visited by an apparition of the Virgin Mary on December 9, 1531. In his vision, he was told to build a giant church exactly where he stood. Today, this is where the Basilica of Guadalupe is located.

The celebration is a way to pass on tradition to the next generation, according to parents that brought their children to El Gallo last night. The younger attendees also see the importance of carrying on their cultural traditions such as this.

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Jennie McKeon
/
WUWF Public Media
A woman takes a photo at the altar for the Dia de la Virgen celebration.
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Jennie McKeon
/
WUWF Public Media
A man makes the sign of the cross during the Dia de la Virgen celebration at El Gallo Latin Market.

“For me [the Virgen de Guadalupe] represents family. She represents strength because she yes to carrying Jesus and that’s a very brave and strong thing to do,” said 17-year-old Luisa Derreza who attended the celebration at El Gallo with her parents. “She did such a beautiful thing at such as young age,” Derreza added. “She also made what is called the Divine Family. The Divine Family is the model of family, the greatest model of love, and they give us the example of how to be a great family and how we should respect one another.”

Celebrations continue today throughout Mexico and other areas around the world.