A bit of tradition in Ithaca

Coloring la Virgencita

[Mainly written on December 12th.]

I grew up celebrating Nuestra Señora la Virgen de Guadalupe’s feast day on December 12th at St. John Vianney. I sang, capsule danced, sale prayed and ate. I loved the danzantes, the mariachi and the food at the party immediately after mass. Even in the years I rarely went to church I still observed this day. Guadalupano roots run deep.

I was worried I wouldn’t be able to celebrate in Ithaca. The churches here don’t have regular Spanish language masses. One church hosts a monthly mass in Spanish and that’s where I found out that there would be a mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe hosted by the Cornell Catholic Community . Andrea asked if anyone wanted to help sing and I volunteered.

Sean dropped us off at the chapel at 11:30. I was late for the mini choir rehearsal but it was still okay since the music was familiar. Xavi sat patiently and watched Andrea play the guitar and Anna play the piano. We practiced and the non Spanish speakers quickly learned the unfamiliar songs.

The chapel at Anabel Taylor Hall was more full than I expected with a lot of students. The service was a bit different than I’m used to. It was in Spanish, sure, but instead of a mariachi a small choir accompanied by piano and acoustic guitar sang the traditional songs like La Guadalupana and Las Mañanitas. There were no danzantes, kids dressed up as Juan Diego or in traditional Mexican clothing or an elaborate dedication of flowers in La Virgencita’s alcove. What wasn’t different was a gathering afterward with food. Xavi was happy with rice and tortilla chips and I tried to restrain myself when I saw students bring out tamales. They were delicious. Despite the differences and that I barely knew anyone at the service, it was the closest I’ve felt to home in our six months in Ithaca.

I’m glad Xavi got to experience a tradition I’ve grown up with. I can’t wait until he gets his own little Juan Diego outfit and sings along. He comes from a long line of Guadalupanos and I’m happy to continue this tradition in los cerros (hills) of Ithaca.