This happened long before my parents met at the youth group at Assumption Church. I’m pretty sure it was before Mamá Toni learned to pray the Rosary or Grandpa made dad and his siblings kneel down to pray the rosary every night.
But I don’t know that far back. I just know that my affinity for La Virgen is undoubtedly influenced by my elders. My parents and grandparents rise at dawn on el Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (or the Sunday preceding the 12th of December) to go pray and sing Las Mañanitas with other devotees at church. Mom typically dresses up in traditional clothes. Dad always takes his guitar as he’s part of the church choir.
When I was a kid, I slept through the early morning prayers, but would not miss 8 a.m. mass and the subsequent party at our home parish, St. John Vianney. Like my mom, I’d dress up in traditional clothes for mass, which was packed more than usual with hundreds of Guadalupanos. The church might have been more full than on Easter Sunday. Mass on la Virgencita’s feast day was festive. A mariachi would come and play “Las Mañanitas” as well as other songs like “La Guadalupana” with the regular choir. Aztec dancers would offer up their dance in the aisles and at the foot of the sanctuary. Sometimes there was even a reenactment of the story of la Virgen’s apparition to Juan Diego. There was no way I would nod off with sleepiness on la Virgen’s feast day.
After Mass, we’d proceed to the party at the O’Callaghan Center for delicious food, more music from the mariachi and dancing with my folkórico group.
I’ll be up early with my parents and grandparents tomorrow.
I miss the celebration.