by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — When immigrants from Mexico came north to the United States, one of the riches they brought with them was a fervent devotion to “Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe” — Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Although she was invoked as “Mother of the Americas” in 1961 by Pope John XXIII, she has a special connection to Mexicans and Hispanic Americans of Mexican heritage.
The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12 is celebrated throughout the Western Hemisphere and beyond.
For those whose families have been in Kansas for generations, the celebration of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a heritage to be cherished, celebrated and handed on.
To those who are more recently arrived, it is rich with nostalgia.
And of course, you don’t have to have Mexican roots to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe. All Catholics are welcome to take part in the Masses and all devotions during the feast, and the Hispanic community is a particularly welcoming one.
The celebrations of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at some parishes in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas are nearly identical to those in Mexico, except for the absence of fireworks and pilgrimages to the shrine near Mexico City.
Typically, the devotions begin with a novena from Dec. 3-11. In some archdiocesan parishes, rosaries are prayed daily from Dec. 8-11.
One tradition observed in some archdiocesan parishes is an all-night vigil, which began this year after evening Masses on Sunday, Dec. 11.
The all-night vigils include dances by groups called “matachines,” meaning “sword dancers.” The dancers, in elaborate costumes, perform devotional dances in the churches to the accompaniment of drums in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Also participating are dancers called “Aztecs,” who are also dressed in elaborate costumes. Still another traditional devotional dance by costumed devotees is “El Baile de los Viejitos,” or “the Dance of the Old Ones.”
In addition to the dancers, various choirs and mariachi bands perform traditional Mexican songs in honor of the Blessed Mother. One traditional song is “Las mañanitas,” or morning greeting.
When daylight comes, the vigil ends and a Mass is celebrated in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Following the Mass, there are social times, usually held in the parish hall, featuring traditional Mexican foods such as hot chocolate and “pan dulce,” or sweet breads.
After the morning Mass and social, some archdiocesan parishes have “living rosaries” and offerings of flowers set before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The observance of the feast typically ends with an evening Mass.