Dia de la Virgen de la Altagracia in Dominican Republic

It was pretty interesting today, like every January 21st in Jarabacoa, to see the religious culture of the Dominican people celebrating the day of the Virgin of Altagracia (the Virgin Mary.)  Here is my story and some images of the event.

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Thousands of Jarabacoenses make a pilgrimage (peregrinación) to a shrine of Mary in an area called “El Puerto” on the highway in the mountains between La Vega and Jarabacoa. They walk about 16 kilometers which takes about 5 hours to get there. I believe most walk at night (the evening before / morning of the Jan 21st because it is cooler weather to endure the grueling hike! Most walkers pay 50 pesos and hop on a Diajatsu work truck to taxi them back to Jarabacoa afterwards.

I walked the entire way there this year with a few friends, meeting people along the way. We left at 1am and arrived back home at 7am! We met a woman and her daughter who became best of pals, while everybody told jokes, talked about life, and supported each other in their suffering. Our feet burned, backs ached, and at times we felt we wouldn’t even make it, but together we survived and arrived!

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The people making the journey bring candles with them to light and say a prayer. Many pay homage (homenaje) to Altagracia to thank her for being the ‘Protector of the Dominican People.

When I woke up after Noon today, I saw that a lot of local businesses and colmados were closed. I also saw truckloads of people stopping by someone’s house to visit a home made shrine of pictures of he Virgin Mary with candles and other paraphernalia. I heard people singing with a tribal sort of chant while praying and looking at the religious pictures. (I wonder if this is what is referee to as Musica de Palo?!?)

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People searching for information on the Virgin of Altagracia Day also used these terms to find this article in search engines:
  • dia de la altagracia
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2 Responses to Dia de la Virgen de la Altagracia in Dominican Republic

  1. Aaron Weil says:

    Im doing a project on the Day of Altagracia and i found this post very helpful. I was just wondering if a special food is served and if any particular type of music is played for the Day of Altagracia.

    • Russ Offord says:

      Hi Aaron. Thanks for the note. I’m not aware of special foods that people would eat. However, perhaps unrelated to the Day of Altagracia, around here a lot of people don’t eat ‘meat’ on Fridays for lent and some other times of the year (fish or egg-plant are usual substitutions in the lunch dinners during those times.) As far as music… you might hear a group of people walking down the street with candles singing hymns or traditional worship tunes doing a prayer walk or service… sometimes assisted by a pickup truck with loudspeakers playing the music or leading the prayers.

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