Today is the fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an important holiday in Mexico. The Lady is the patron saint of Mexico, and of all of Central and South America. Thousands flock to the shrine at the famous Church of Guadalupe outside Mexico City for special ceremonies and mariachi-led singing, which are televised nationally.
The festival commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to an Aztec man, and the miracles she performed to cause the Church of Guadalupe to be built. She became a symbol, not just of faith, but also of native pride and resistance against oppression. She is celebrated with processions, masses, prayers, songs, and feasts.
On the other side of the ocean, Scandanavia celebrates St. Lucia tomorrow in a festival called Luciadagen. “Lucy” means light, and her feast day opens the Christmas season. Children dress in white, glitter, and tinsel, and one is chosen to represent St. Lucia, wearing a crown of burning candles. St. Lucia and her tomtens (children playing gnomes) waken each member of the family in the morning with a tray of coffee and special treats.