Like every year, many parents who follow the Catholic tradition, dress their youngest children like Juan Diego

Liam Martín Núñez is a very well-behaved two-year-old boy who does not respond or show any resistance, while his mother tries on an indigenous costume at the traditional Mercado del Este in Los Angeles.

Like many children, children of Mexican immigrants, Liam, his parents dress him every December 12 as the indigenous San Juan Diego to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe that day is celebrated.

Saint John Diego, according to the Church, appeared to the Patroness of Mexico on the hill of Tepeyac in 1531. And in 2002, he was made holy by Pope John Paul II.

Even far from Mexico, Catholic families residing in Southern California keep alive the tradition of bringing their youngest children dressed as San Juan Diego, the only indigenous saint in the Americas, to church.

"My husband promised the Virgin that every year, he was going to dress Liam as Juan Diego on Virgin's Day”Says Gaby Castro, the boy’s mother.

Liam Martin is dressed as the native turned saint, Juan Diego, to celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 12. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).

The family that lives in the city of Downey, plans to arrive at the East Los Angeles Market at 8 am on December 12 to join the hundreds of Guadalupanos devotees who celebrate the Virgin in the gigantic image there of her.

"We go to the Church, but we also come to see the Virgin here at the market in East Los Angeles. We sing the mañanitas to the Virgin and pray”Says Gaby.

This year, the grandmother María Luisa Ortega who visits them from Durango, will accompany them.

"It is the first time that it is my turn to celebrate the Virgin here in the United States," she says excitedly.

Amary is ready to honor the virgin of Guadalupe. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).
Amary was taken by her mother and grandmother to buy her outfit for the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).

Victoria Valencia, is another mother who is going to dress her three-month-old daughter Amary as an indigenous woman to honor the Virgin.

“I bought her skirt, belt and blouse,” says Victoria, who was accompanied to the East Los Angeles Market by Grandma Martha.

“This is the second year that we dressed her. Every year we change the outfit, ”says Victoria. They plan to go see the Virgin of Guadalupe to a church in the city of El Monte.

The stores in the East Los Angeles Market are full of indigenous clothing alluding to San Diego. This year it has become fashionable, the blanket dresses for women with the image of the Virgin in front.

The family of Mayra and Sergio García ready to dress their children as the indigenous Saint Juan Diego. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion)

For Mayra and Sergio García, the one from Zacatecas and she from Jalisco, Mexico, dressing their indigenous children on the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe is part of the religious heritage they want to leave them.

“We want them to grow up with that love for the Virgin. We took advantage of that day to give thanks and entrust ourselves, ”says Mayra, who along with his family lives in south central Los Angeles.

Rosario Méndez brought her three-year-old daughter Melody to buy her outfit for the Day of the Virgin. “I have three children and I have dressed them all like San Juan Diego, but they have grown up and I only have the smallest one,” says this mother.

"On December 12 we visited the Virgin and we thank her for everything she has given us," he says.

The clothing related to San Juan Diego is in a blanket with images of the "Morenita" as the Virgin is told in Mexico, Children wear a hat and wear huaraches. On the back they carry a box full of plastic animals and other materials that symbolize a stable, since San Juan Diego was a shepherd.

Hundreds of devotees of the Virgin of Guadalupe await at the Eastern Los Angeles Market. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).

Market Party

As every year, Around the image of the Virgin located in the parking lot of the Mercado del Este in Los Angeles, located at number 3425 of First Street, a big party will be held from the night of Wednesday, December 11.

“We will start at 10 at night with dances and singers. At midnight, we will sing the mañanitas to the Virgin; and then the presentation of the play of the Apparitions of the Virgin ”, says Lupita Vázquez, spokeswoman for the House of International Culture María Carlton Foundation, who together with the market carry out each year the celebration for the Guadalupana.

Mass will be celebrated at 7 in the morning. "We will continue with the festival until 3 pm on December 12," he says.

And he anticipates that they expect between 1,500 and 2,000 people.

“We do not want traditions to be lost. We want children, children of Latinos to continue with this culture and do not forget our mother Morena, ”says the spokeswoman.

He adds that each year Felipe and María Carlton, as well as Ricardo Rojas of the Foundation try to do something different.

"The goal is always to give the Virgin the little hands," he says.

The celebration includes free food for attendees. "We will often have tamales, atole, bread and mushrooms," he says.

And he ends by saying that on December 12, the East Los Angeles market feels like a "little corner of our beloved Mexico."


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