Festivities and processions during the first twelve days of December each year in the past involved tens of thousands of Puerto Vallarta inhabitants and visitors, who paid homage to commemorate the appearance of the Virgin Mary to the peasant Juan Diego on December 12, 1531.
The streets of Puerto Vallarta came alive with traditional parades and other festivities in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The colorful festival combined both ancient Aztec and modern Christian symbolism, with dance groups performing in the streets.
Most of the processions would begin or end around the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Town Square in Downtown Puerto Vallarta. This structure is topped with an elaborate crown, said to have been modeled after a tiara worn by the mistress of Emperor Maximilia.
The Guadalupana is a visually rich experience for visitors. Pilgrimages were staged by local families, organizations, neighborhoods, businesses, or any group with a common bond. Each procession was unique and wonderful, with pilgrims singing the praise of Our Lady often to the accompaniment of musicians as they brought gifts to the altar in her honor to Puerto Vallarta's Cathedral, also known as the Church of Our Lady Of Guadalupe. Everyone was expected to pay homage to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Puerto Vallarta's revered patron saint.
Streets around the church were lined with patient spectators, waiting for the appearance of their favorite processions. As each procession reached the church, bells rang out. The number of pilgrimages intensified as the celebration continued until the last few days when they filled as many as 20 hours in a day. The celebration spread across the Plaza with a grand finale of fireworks.
Baptisms, confirmations, first holy communions and even weddings took place within the local community to coincide with this special and blessed date. Fireworks decorated and lit up the skies, folk dance groups performed, traditional parades entertained the crowds, people sing hymns and songs of praise in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and the central plaza was filled to the brim with street vendors selling fruits, food, local products and other specialties.
Sadly, this year of 2020 the festivities will only be shared virtually on social media because of the COVID-19 and keeping our citizens and tourists safe in these difficult times. We hope to see you in 2021.
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