Guadalupe-Reyes marathon. Discover this very Mexican way of celebrating in December

Mexican culture is full of tradition and rituals during December. Find all about them here so you don’t miss any and can participate in the now famous Guadalupe – Reyes marathon.

In the 1990s, the Mexican government implemented the Guadalupe – Reyes operation, which consisted of deploying police forces around the city from December 12th, Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, until January 6th, Day of the Three Wise Men, to support security and surveillance. From that date forward, the name of this “marathon” stuck, and now it refers to all the festivities we celebrate from the Day of the Virgin until January 6th.

This period is very important in Mexico because it marks the moment that all of the Christmas celebrations in Mexico begin. 

December 12th, Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe – Thousands of pilgrims advance to La Villa to thank the Mexican Virgin. Masses are also celebrated throughout the city and pilgrimages occur from many cities.

December 16th – The Christmas posadas or parties officially begin. They are traditional festivals with rituals such as hitting piñatas, exchanging gifts, asking for a place to stay for the night, lulling baby Jesus and eating and drinking delicious meals. They begin on December 16th because, according to Catholic accounts, it took Mary nine days to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem to give birth. That is why nine posadas are held before the last one is celebrated on December 24th.

December 24th – Christmas Eve (or the last posada). Here the birth of Jesus is celebrated: Joseph and Mary arriving to their destination and surviving their enemies thanks to the kindness of those who helped them on their way. It is a night for a family dinner, sharing moments, praying and making a toast at midnight, which is when Christmas officially begins.

December 25th – Christmas. This day people do not work in Mexico and they enjoy it with their family. Traditionally it is when gifts are given (or sometimes on the 24th at midnight). The typical recalentado or leftovers from the night before are warmed up and enjoyed even more. 

December 28th – Day of the Innocent. This celebration refers to all the children that King Herod killed in fear of being dethroned. In Mexico it is a day that is celebrated as the equivalent of April Fool’s in the United States for the innocent children that are easily deceived. A very recurring joke is that people borrow money on this date, so be careful! If you lend it that day, they will not return it to you.

December 31st – New Year’s Eve. This day usually makes for a great celebration. A banquet is served to say goodbye to the old year and the sound of 12 bell-strokes at midnight announces the new year. 12 grapes are eaten along with champagne: one to ask for abundance in each month of the following year. There are also many rituals that accompany the New Year’s party. For example: we fill our pockets with lentils to attract abundance, wear red panties for love, yellow for money, go outside with suitcases to attract many trips the following year, sweep the doorstep of the house to drive away bad vibes and gather a bunch of fresh wheat that represents fortune for next year.

January 1st – New Year’s Day. The first day of the new year, a day designed to rest, keep on partying or recuperate from the festivities from the night before (check out great places to cure a hangover in Mexico City here).

January 6 – Three Wise Men (Kings) Day. This day the Three Wise Men arrive to deliver gifts to Mexican homes. This is when the Rosca de Reyes (traditional sweet bread) is eaten. With this tradition the December festivities come to a happy end.

Of course, over the years this marathon has become a reason to celebrate during 26 days. It began as a security operation by the country’s police and is now a party marathon for all Mexicans. It is used to justify (a little) all the excesses that are experienced in December. While the authorities take care of us, we celebrate.

If you are going to take part in the famous marathon, we recommend you not to use a car, opt for some alternative means of transportation since there are breathalizers waiting in every corner, there is a lot of traffic because everyone is outside celebrating, and there are always many people buying gifts.

FlowSuites is waiting for you with open arms to enjoy this special time in Mexico City, book your trip here. You can also contact us via WhatsApp at +52 1 55 7989 3074 for a vacation that you will definitely not forget.