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Virgens and Mayans and calendars, oh my!

Photo by Antonio Bronic / Reuters

Two stories connected through nonsense:

“From the small parishes with Latino church goers on the East Coast to the Los Angeles cathedral that houses the country’s largest Hispanic congregation, America on Wednesday will pay tribute to Mexico’s patron saint.

The Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the New World, is a day that has been commemorated in Mexico for almost five centuries and by Latinos in the U.S. Southwest for about half as long. …

According to the faithful, [the cloth bearing the Virgen’s image] belonged to Aztec peasant Juan Diego to whom the Virgin Mary appeared in 1531 and who became a conduit between Our Lady of Guadalupe and her people of the New World.

Diego asked the local bishop to build a church to honor her. When the bishop requested a sign that Diego’s story was true, the Virgin of Guadalupe directed him to collect roses growing on a desolate hilltop and take them to the bishop wrapped in his cloak.

When Diego delivered the roses, the bishop and other witnesses were astounded to find the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe imprinted on Diego’s cloak.”



“The supposed end of the Mayan calendar, Dec. 21, is the day some say the world will end. So from China to Russia to Mexico to California, hundreds of thousands are getting ready for what is supposed to be the end of the world.

The Maya didn’t say much about what would happen next, after a 5,125-year cycle known as the Long Count comes to an end. So into that void have rushed occult writers, bloggers and New Age visionaries foreseeing all manner of monumental change, from doomsday to a new age of enlightenment.”


Now, while I hate to be that guy, I must say something about the two topics trending on Latino news sites this week.

While most Latinos probably believe in the Virgen story and the coming Mayan apocalypse — and many undoubtedly believe in both, bless their little hearts — as a member of the growing number of Latinos with no superstitions whatsoever, I’m obliged to tell the outside world that not all Latinos believe in miracles, saints and ancient prophecies.

I understand what the image of the Virgen means to millions of Mexicans and Mexican Americans. She is part of their cultural and national identity, just as the Virgen de Supaya is for my fellow Hondurans. But did the Virgen really appear to Diego on that hilltop at Tepeyac? If you base your life on experience, reason and what is known about the universe through the ever-increasing advancements in science, your answer must be a definitive “no.”

As for the Mayans, well, their silly little prediction — if it’s even that — hardly deserves mention. I’ll only suggest that it’s unwise to rely on the predictions of a civilization that peaked over 1,000 years ago — for you history buffs, that’s before the Chinese invented movable type.

Plus, Google knows more than any Mayan ever did, and even Google tells me that the Mayans didn’t know what they were talking about.

Still, many Latinos will spend today celebrating the Virgen de Guadalupe and preparing for the end of the world.

I guess I’ll have to find something else to do.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. Daniel Ruiz says:

    This end of the world talk is garbage. The Mayan view of time was circular not linear. Their calendar is merely resetting. Think of the Mayan calendar like a a clock on the wall. Just because the hour/minute hands are at 11:59 does not mean the clock is going to break at 12. It will just start over. Same with their calendar. It’s not that complicated. Some people just have this pathetic need to believe that they are so important that the world will end while they are alive. Get over yourselves. The world will keep spinning long after we are all gone.

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