DES PLAINES, Ill. — Every year, a two-day pilgrimage to Saint Juan Diego in Mexico City takes place, ending on Dec. 12, commemorating the appearance of the virgin Mary.

Thousands of miles away in Des Plaines, Illinois, a similar pilgrimage is made a day earlier to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the largest such pilgrimage for the event in the United States.

“We celebrate the 11th until midnight,” said Yulissa Ochoa, an annual pilgrim to the shrine in Des Plaines. “And in Mexico City when her church is at midnight, we sing the happy birthday song to her.”

The pilgrimage incorporates Aztecan traditions like dances and rituals to celebrate the virgin Mary.

“It’s a very important Mexican tradition,” Ochoa said. “She is a very important saint that a lot of Mexicans celebrate.”

For a list of events associated with the pilgrimage, click here.