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By MoKa Hammeken (Reprinted from Dec. 2012)
Both jokingly and in all seriousness, you can begin to hear voices talk about the famous marathon that has the entire Mexican community worked up, particularly now that running is a hot trend: it’s the Guadalupe – Reyes Marathon (a.k.a. Lupe-Reyes).
And no, it’s not a marathon in which one has to run long distances, but it does require a certain type of “condition” in order to persist, without succumbing, over a lapse of time. Of course bets may be taken as if it were some type of sport to see just who among us can make it. Who will it be?
It’s called the Guadalupe-Reyes marathon with a shotgun start on December 12th, the day commemorating la Virgen de Guadalupe, which reaches the finish line on January 6th, Kings’ Day. The objective of this healthy sporting event is to keep celebrating (translation drinking) throughout the twenty-five days without skipping a day or two in between.
This is a unique and traditional concept within Mexican culture that, according to some, began to gain ground toward the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. There are also those who assure us the Lupe-Reyes frenzy began decades before among certain social circles, while others place this back to pre-Hispanic times when the Mexicas celebrated their pilgrimage to Aztlán. There are even those who dare to “jump the pond” and cultural gaps, and take the tradition back to Rome and Saturnine festivals (with which I personally do not agree).
Yet there is one thing upon which we all coincide, which is that now this Mexican folklore has acquired frightening popularity in recent years and the overall holiday atmosphere lends to the festivities. Though traditional posadas (Christmas parties) begin on Dec. 16th, “pre-posadas” are also now in style and any reason to get together is a good one. Fiestas can be found to and fro (along with promotions for 6 to 13 interest free months in many wine and liquor departments); vacations are right around the corner… Christmas…leftovers…post-Christmas gatherings where we can reunite with those who couldn’t be there on Christmas day. Then there’s el día de los santos inocentes (Innocents’ [pranksters] day), and of course there’s always a friend with a birthday around the 29th or 31st of December who is ready to celebrate, and thus we continue through New Year’s and up until Kings’ Day.
Yet, above all there is obvious celebration that finals are over, which can be so stressing for students (who are over age of course). According to urban legend, students were the instigators of this “spiritual” relay (or perhaps we should say spirited), and they will fully return to their academic abilities come the New Year when apparently hot chocolate and the traditional rosca de reyes (Kings’ Day pastry) mark the end of this exhausting though joyous marathon.
From there on out there will be the intent to fulfill New Year’s resolutions, pay bills and reintegrate oneself into daily life. Then the time will come for a health check-up: blood tests, cholesterol, triglycerides, sugar, etc., etc., etc. ¡Feliz Lupe Reyes marathon to you! See you at the Finish Line!