Dancing with Faith

Concha Campa

Everyone wakes up before the sun crawls up on the horizon. By the time 5 AM rolls around, the church is filled with people. You open the doors to the church and your ears go from silence to being enchanted by smooth singing and drums. Sophomore Araceli Davila has attended this event at her church, Sacred Heart Cathedral, as long as she can remember. 

“On this special day, we remember the day when the Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego, an indigeous man, on December 9th and 12th of 1531,” Davila said. “She told Juan to ask the bishop to build a church on the spot where she appeared, which was a hill in present day Mexico City.” 

The story then continues, with the bishop needing proof that Juan Diego was telling the truth.

Alex Morales

“Juan Diego went back to the hill and told the Lady of Guadalupe what had happened and she told him to pick up roses and gather them in his cloak,” Davila said. “When he showed the cloak to the bishop the roses had painted a picture of the Lady of Guadalupe.”

On December 12th, the Catholic Hispanic community gathers together to remember this day. Junior Annette Rodriguez, along with other high school students, participates in an ancient Aztec dance which is a way they honor the Lady of Guadalupe. 

“When we dance it’s mainly movements with our feet not our upper body we have a maraca in our right hand and we wear these aztec inspired feathery hats along with a bandana on our heads,” Rodriguez said. 

The dancers are required to wear a skirt which is usually decorated with sequins, different patches and bells so when they dance their skirts make a noise.  

“We began practicing at the beginning of October, twice a week. We practice so we can prepare ourselves for that day,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like I’m giving thanks because we’re dancing for her and in a way honoring her for bringing the Catholic church to Mexico,” Rodriguez said. 

The celebration begins at 5am with the “mananitas” which is the birthday celebration. People arrive ready to sing their hearts out and watch the dancers.

“It’s very emotional just to see everyone in the church singing and loving our lady, it’s a beautiful sensation,” Davila said. 

In the morning, younger children go dressed up as Saint Juan Diego or they dress in traditional Mexican attire. At noon, another service is held and after mass the real celebration begins. 

“After mass we all gather in our parish hall and watch the dancers and enjoy the mexican food,” Davila said. 

The dancers begin dancing immediately after mass and don’t stop until 8 o’clock. 

“Our Lady of Guadalupe is a major part of our culture. Every year I look forward to this special day where I can honor her through a dance my ancestors created,” Rodrguez said.