A Small Town Pilgrimage

My family travel to Mexico during the winter to see our extended family, partake in the festivities, but specifically to my mother to make a “pilgrimage”. Every year in January, a parade celebrating the Virgin Mary occurs, and so does a festival. This lasts nine days, but this part is more religiously focused than it is on fun and games. In the morning, people gather at the entrance of town and begin their walk to the church in the town’s center. Whilst walking, people throw confetti to decorate the large image of the Virgin which is at the forefront of the parade. The rosary is recited out loud as people pray along and hold candles. The walk ends as the people arrive at the church and the bells begin to ring loudly as the people enter the church. Mass follows after the parade.

Ceremonies like these are very special to the more religious people in the family such as my mother and my grandmother and the other ladies of the town. Not many show up to this parade as they do with the correlating night festivities, but it is still culturally significant to the communities as it defines an important aspect of Mexican national identity and its close relationship to Catholicism. At least that’s how older generations feel more so than the younger.

I myself remember holding my mom’s hands during these parades and seeing how devoted she was to these processions. I also came to regard these as integral parts as my identity as a child descending from a Mexican Catholic family.