This tradition of Chorotega origin, consists of the set of cultural activities that are celebrated every year, from November 1 and extend until December 12, in honor of Our Lady Virgin of Guadalupe de Nicoya.
Among the activities we can name: the Pica de Leña, the Contadera de Días, the Procession of the Past, the Atolada, and the Great Day of Celebration. These activities summon between 150 to 1000 people per day, depending on the date they are carried out. It also highlights that the Brotherhood has a complex organizational structure in which women have an important role, alongside various social actors.
The ancestral tradition begins with the Contadera de Días, on November 1, which, as its name indicates, consists of carrying out a count, which, according to Ruth Barrantes, “according to the statutes of the indigenous , are made with colored corn kernels, such as yellow, white, such as pink and purple ”.
The second activity is the Pica de Leña, whose main objective is to collect the firewood needed for the other days of the festival. According to Barrantes, this day begins by giving “breakfast and chicheme to the cattlemen, and, in a farm located on the south side, they begin to chop the firewood. Then the carts parade through the community until they return to the Brotherhood to store the firewood. “
Subsequently, the Atolada is offered, an activity carried out on December 9 which, according to Barrantes, “is a festival where the prioste (brother) responsible, makes the atol that is distributed to the entire community, after the prayer of five in the morning ”.
Then, there are the Vespers of the Celebro, which is celebrated on December 11, and in which the Procession of the Past takes place, which consists primarily of the Brotherhood’s call to the Nicoyan community to gather and start the walk that takes place from when the responsible prioste is presented with the image to the “Casa de la Virgen”, as the Brotherhood is also known.
On this same day, during the Procession, the Yegüita Dance is performed, which consists of a person dressed in a petticoat, made with a vine ring covered with a blanket, and who also has a wooden head with a horse and a tail, he performs dances and bows to the Virgin to the sound of a drum, whistles, bamboo reeds and music in general.
Finally, there is the Great Celebration Day, which takes place on December 12, and in which the inhabitants of the community are gathered with the intention of celebrating the Solemn Mass, in charge of the Bishop and the priests participating in the tradition. . During this activity, the mayordomos present the offerings to the Virgin and, again, the Yegüita Dance is offered. Once the mass is over, another procession takes place through the streets of the community, where the Virgin is returned to the temple.
s six in the afternoon, that same day, “The Election” is held, in which, solely through the female vote, they choose the main positions of the new Brotherhood: the mayordomos, priostes, among other positions.
How did this centennial holiday originate?
This tradition had its origins in the middle of the 16th century, during the festivities of the Chorotega Indians; many of a religious nature. Precisely, one of these was the Festival of the Sun, a celebration that was held to pay tribute to the gods.
Carlos Arauz, a Nicaraguan costumbrista writer, explains that this happened because “as a Mesoamerican people, the Chorotegas had many of the beliefs of the peoples that inhabited Mexico, and their main gods were: The Sun, The Moon, The Wind and The Water “
According to Arauz, Nicoya was the pre-Columbian city that the Spanish found when Gil González Dávila arrived in 1523, and that, at that time, the region was the capital of the Chorotega nation. During that same period, it was when the conquistadors began to convert to Catholicism within the region, an aspect that, in the writer’s words, “did not have much resistance, according to various historians”.
Towards 1529, when the Spanish chronicler and conqueror Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, in his visit to the Nicoyan town, witnessed and wrote in great detail the Festival of the Sun, “it made it possible to conclusively demonstrate that Chorotega religious practices were not undermined, despite the fact that the records sent to the Crown reported that the entire population had converted to Catholicism, “said Arauz.
So the Spanish, once again undergoing the conversion process and seeing resistance from the indigenous in the religious aspect, had the idea of recreating the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe that occurred in Mexico, with the logic that both peoples Being Mesoamerican, they would have a similar reaction.
“The Virgin of Guadalupe appeared in the ancient oratory of worship of the goddess Tonantzin, the mother deity of Mesoamerican culture. It is not known with certainty when this devotion could reach Nicoya, but it was always estimated that, at the end of the conquest, in the year 1544, the tradition of the Virgin of Guadalupe could arrive, “said the writer.