Mexico is a land of colorful festivals and strong traditions. These past two weeks, the little town of Bucerías has been hosting the Bucerías Patron Saint Festival, an annual festival that celebrates Our Lady of Peace (La Virgen de la Paz) who is the patron of the local Catholic Church. The fiesta lasts for nearly two weeks and the streets are full of food and craft vendors, games and carnival rides. Fireworks are shot off on the beach every night and the town square is full of music and dancing. Throughout the two weeks there are float parades, baptisms, pilgrimages to some 18 villages around Bucerías, special daybreak Masses and all kinds of artistic and cultural events.
The final day of the celebration is January 24th, the Day of Our Lady of Peace, mother and protector of fishermen, and is highlighted by the pilgrimage of the Peace Torch. The fishermen from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle decorate their fishing pangas and navigate to Bucerías in a procession where they will then land on the beach and make their way by land to take their offering to the Virgin at the Church of Our Lady of Peace to plead for a prosperous year. There are also swimmers who make the 5-mile swim from La Cruz to Bucerías, as well as a land pilgrimage courtesy of the Mexican charros or cowboys.
We spent the morning watching the processions through town, and the pangas arriving in Bucerías, full of celebrating fishermen and their families. The beach was packed with locals and tourists all watching as one by one the pangas would time their drive onto the beach through the crashing surf. Everyone on the boat would jump onto the sand and the locals would all help turn the panga back to sea. Very exciting! When all the pilgrims had safely landed, a procession led by the Peace Torch wound its way to the church for a special Mass and blessing.
It’s a treat to be able to see local celebrations like this, and to try to understand a bit more about the tight-knit culture that we’re living in. The communities here are very warm and welcoming and there is so much more to see and learn about this wonderful country.