Even if you are not Latin American, you’ve probably heard the word Quinceanera before. You may even have witnessed such a ceremony for a teen girl at a church. A Quinceanera is the beginning of a celebration called Fiesta Rosa (Pink Party), where a fifteen-year-old girl celebrates her coming-of-age. Quinceañera means “fifteen years old,” which explains the name of the celebration.
One of the traditional ways the faithful have venerated the Virgin Mary, which became popular during Medieval times, was with a family home or parish church Mary Garden. Marian Gardens were small plots of ground dedicated to growing shrubs, herbs, and flowers that were representative of Mary and various events from her life. This was quite easy to do, as literally hundreds of plants were given Marian names in remembrance of Mary’s saintly life and glorious virtues.
It is not a coincidence that Catholic Latinos are highly devoted to the Virgin Mary. It is a heritage from Spain and it is due to the series of mystical manifestations that occurred throughout the histories of these countries. There is a long list of Marian devotions in Latin America; they are almost innumberable. Some titles of Our Lady represent a whole nation, with other titles for nearly every town, city, and region. Out of all the many Marian devotions in Latin America, below are the top four most popular:
If you’ve ever heard of Rosemary and Marigold, then you already know some plants named after the Blessed Mother. Each time one of these plants caught the eye, the faithful were sweetly reminded of the Queen of Heaven and Earth. As a sign of devotion to Our Lady, people began to plant gardens in churches, monasteries, convents, and family homes intentionally filled with plants named after her, which became known as Mary Gardens.
According to tradition, towards the end of her life the Blessed Virgin moved from Jerusalem to Ephesus (in modern-day Turkey). No longer able to retrace the steps of her Son’s passion where they actually occurred, she set up an identical Stations of the Cross on her property using stones and markings. This became the very first Stations of the Cross. This is described in detail by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich according to her visions.
The Feast of the Ascension, also called Ascension Thursday, follows 40 days after Easter Sunday and is a Holy Day of Obligation. The Feast of the Ascension is probably treated in many places today as one of the ho-hum feast days, but historically it was a major feast (thus, its status as a holy day of obligation). In order to think of it and treat it with the same reverence as Christians of days past, it helps to reflect on it more deeply.
May, when the earth blooms in springtime beauty, is an ideal time for our thoughts and sentiments to be directed towards this supremely lovely Queen of Heaven and Earth, who busily labors from her heavenly throne to conquer hearts, minds, and souls for the greater glory of her Son. So, how can you honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in a special way this month, and allow her to conquer your own heart? Here are nine ideas.
The “Day of the Cross” is a popular part of religious and cultural identity in many Latin American countries. “Holy Cross Day” is based on an old liturgical feast celebrating the discovery of the true cross of Christ. The day is honored with processions, singing, and hundreds of decorated crosses along roadsides and other public places.
Easter is a glorious time to be Catholic. There is nothing more wonderful than to participate in than the various liturgies of the Easter Triduum, the holiest time of year. This is the solemn three-day period, from the night of Holy Thursday to the Easter Vigil, when the Church accompanies her Savior in His Passion, death, and resurrection.
Painting Easter eggs is a beloved ancient tradition for Eastern Catholic churches as well as Orthodox. The eggs are often dyed red to represent the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross. The Easter eggs are then carried to the church in baskets to be blessed by the priest at the end of the Easter vigil before being distributed to the faithful. Historically, Christians would abstain from eating eggs during a strict Lent, so Easter was the first chance to eat eggs again after a long period of abstinence. The egg represented the sealed Tomb of Christ, and cracking the shell represented Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.