Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Every year during the first 12 days of December the streets of Puerto Vallarta come alive as the faithful make their way through the city in traditional 'Peregrinaciones' (pilgrimages). The celebrations come to a joyful end on December 12 with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Known in Spanish as Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, this important religious and social festival commemorates the miraculous appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe to the Indian peasant Juan Diego on December 12, 1531.
According to legend, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was imprinted on the cloak of Juan Diego, and to this day it is on display in Mexico City at the Basilica of Guadalupe which was constructed at the site of the miraculous appearance.
The candlelight processions generally start in front of Woolworth's and go the 11 blocks down Juarez street to the Guadalupe church. Indigenous pagan and Christian rituals are mixed together as young warriors dance in the streets commemorating the miraculous apparition, while others carry banners or colorful floats that usually portray the Virgin Mary and Juan Diego.
On the eve of December 12th, the last procession begins its journey towards the Cathedral. Once the procession reaches its destination, a special mass in devotion to Puerto Vallarta's revered patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe, is celebrated.
It was on the same day in 1851 that Puerto Vallarta was founded by Don Guadalupe Sanchez; thus, the 12th of December also marks the 167th anniversary of the founding of Puerto Vallarta.
The feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe is one of Puerto Vallarta's most beloved and popular celebrations. Baptisms, confirmations, first holy communions and even weddings take place within the local community to coincide with this special and blessed date.
Fireworks decorate and light up the skies, folk dance groups perform, traditional parades entertain the crowds, people sing hymns and songs of praise in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and the central plaza is filled to the brim with street vendors selling fruits, food, souveniers and other specialties.A beautiful, religious and cultural event in Mexico, the Festival of Guadalupe is one of Puerto Vallarta's most beloved celebrations, drawing crowds of many thousands each year.