There are few examples of Mexico’s colorful traditions and intriguing customs that compare with the splendor of La Guadalupana . The Guadalupana is a cherished procession that involves communities from all over Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding areas which takes place every year for 12 days from December 1st, terminating on the Day of Guadalupe on December 12. The processions are in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe who appeared to the Aztec, Juan Diego in December 1531, marking a chain of conversions to Catholicism throughout Mexico and Latin America.
Most cities and towns in Mexico mark the anniversary of the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 12 but few dedicate 12 days to colorful and melodious processions. Starting on December 1, distinct groups of local inhabitants make their vibrant processions to the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe located near the main plaza in Downtown Puerto Vallarta just two streets from the Malecon boardwalk.
If you are lucky enough to be on vacation in Puerto Vallarta during this time, you will see procession after procession of floats carrying young girls dressed to imitate the Virgin of Guadalupe, pre-Hispanic dancers, brass bands, syndicates and groups dressed in white singing on their way to church: “La Guadalupana … La Guadalupana … La Guadalupana bajó al Tepeyac…”
The processions are a truly unique cultural affair, where the whole city joins in, whether as well wishers watching the processions or as active participants in the pilgrimages. The sides streets where the processions take place are stocked with stalls selling delicious Mexican delicacies, crafts and other wonders. It is an amazing time of year to experience Puerto Vallarta, just before the Christmas rush of visitors.
Even amongst Mexicans who are not religious, the Virgin of Guadalupe is a significant icon whose tradition is based on the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego, an Aztec who then converted to Catholicism in 1531. The vision is thought to have been the beginning of a widespread conversion to Catholicism throughout Mexico and the rest of Latin America. Mexico City is another incredible place to be on December 12, when the largest processions arrive to the Cathedral which rests on the supposed site of Juan Diego’s vision.