Celebrating the Virgin in a Macho Culture

Mexican Dichotomy: Celebrating the Virgin in a Macho Culture   

By Tara A. SpearsVirgin guadalupe 

By the early morning hours of December 12, every small village and urban area of the country will awaken to the burst of fire crackers with their brilliant light to begin celebrating the holiday season with a fiesta dedicated to the Mother of all Mexicans- Our Lady of Guadalupe. I find it interesting that such an intrinsically macho culture- where men have perceived superiority and dominance- accords such importance to female deities.  Not only is Our Lady of Guadalupe the country’s patron saint since the 1810 Mexican Revolution, she symbolizes what the modern Latino woman should strive to be.

 

Slide show produced by Bill Bell, photography by Bill and Dot Bell

Virgin guadalupe1It comes as no surprise, then, that the mysticism of the Virgin of Guadalupe should permeate the pop culture throughout north, central, and south American countries. In modern times, this female deity is portrayed in literature, art, and commerce as a female goddess of the cosmos, a warrior defender of minority rights (no down cast eyes for this contemporary woman), a loving and forgiving mother that can intercede with God the Father and Son. Beyond her role as life-giver, this Virgin is one of the violated masses who is able to rise above economic and physical woes to heal the wounds of the past.  It is easy to understand the Virgin’s popularity with all these spiritual attributes, and why the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is Mexico’s most important religious holiday.

 The festivities, which mark the 480th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe, usually begin with Mass at the town church. On Monday, at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, there will be a festival featuring mariachi music, folkloric dance and traditional Mexican dishes afterwards. Today many devotees make the pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe, some crawling on their knees for miles, to pray to the Virgin of Guadalupe, to  make promises, or to seek spiritual guidance. Believers feel that the Virgin can cure almost any sickness; in the last 20 years, many problem drinkers go there to promise her that they will never drink again. The majority of these pilgrims claim to find the strength to fulfill their promises and find the answers that they seek.

Virgin guadalupe2Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, the story of how La Virgen Guadalupe became celebrated throughout Mexico and Latin America is either an interesting legend or a blueprint for faith and redemption.   Just from a secular point of view, the true miracle is that the Virgin has united the Hispanic population as well as Catholics throughout continental America in a common love and devotion. This unity was accomplished by that same steadfast love and devotion that Hispanics use to approach every aspect of life and tradition. The celebration on the 12th unofficially starts the Mexican holiday season, a season filled with joy, hope, and unity.

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