Guadalupe–Reyes: A Very Different Kind of Marathon
By Verónica Toro
Translated by Nyima Bieber
Want to have a different kind of Christmas? Mexico has amazing activities and destinations that no other country has, especially in places that involve sun, sand and sea; these are the most attractive during the winter. If you want to get away from the cold, Vallarta-Nayarit is the perfect option for escape.
Mexican customs and traditions are very extensive but when it comes to marathon partying (and especially Christmas parties) it’s something else altogether. Let’s just say that the Guadalupe-Reyes Marathon is not athletic at all; it’s quite the contrary. For Mexicans, this is a very commonly-heard expression once December rolls around- and it is no wonder it is a success in our culture. If you are Mexican, you’ll know what we mean.
It starts on December 16th with the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe and ends on January 6th with the Day of the Three Kings. In between there are many party days in which it is fair and necessary to celebrate: from the 16th to 24th are the famous posadas. The 24th is Christmas Eve, the 25th Christmas; the 28th, the day of the Innocent Saints, the 31st is New Year’s Eve and finally, on January 1st, the first day of a new cycle.
Are you still wondering why it is called the Guadalupe-Reyes Marathon? It’s precisely because that is what it is: a load of celebrations, one after another, to be enjoyed in the company of family, friends and of course, with good food.
The most popular December holidays are the posadas (literal translation inns) or Christmas parties. Catholics celebrate and reenact Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter to give birth to the baby Jesus. They began to take place in religious buildings. Over the years, they were then performed on the street and then inside houses. Starting in the twentieth century, the elements that were used as lanterns were replaced by colored light bulbs or electric lights; the fireworks were replaced by sparklers; the sweets, piñatas, music and everything has evolved over time.
Traditionally they pray the rosary and sing the paragraphs of the famous litany: “In the name of heaven, I request you grant us shelter, given that she cannot walk, she my beloved wife…” To do the chant people are divided into two groups, usually one male and one female. The first is placed outside the house to ask for refuge, with Joseph and Mary in front; the other group is inside the house to respond. This custom has been left behind by younger generations (which in some ways means that the original meaning of the festivities has been forgotten). Then, the piñata is broken and a dinner is prepared, normally consisting of tamales and buñuelos accompanied by atole or punch.
Then come the Christmas Eve dinner and the ‘leftovers’ on Christmas, the tricks of the Day of the Innocent Saints, the big party for New Year and the delicious rosca de Reyes cake.
Imagine all of this but in the warm weather of the tropics, the friendliness of the people of the region, accommodation in luxury hotels, a boardwalk full of restaurants, clubs and cafes to visit, good music, natural landscapes and streets full of folklore and history … it sounds good, right? Vallarta-Nayarit is all this and more; authentic tropical paradise that you simply can’t afford to miss.
Happy holidays and Bon Appetit!
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