Christmas Traditions In mexico
Christmas traditions in Mexico are full of reverence and delight. They also highlight family and community through many fun filled and reverential gatherings. Most of all, they are especially fun for the children! As an integrated culture, Mexicans are particularly adept at combining aspects of various traditions into vibrant celebrations. December holidays are no exception.
It all starts ten days before Christmas Eve, on December 16th, when processions of people accompanying statues of people dressed as Mary and Joseph go from place to place throughout the community. As they walk along, they sing a song imploring the onlookers to help them find shelter for the holy couple. Candles and sparklers light the way and songs elevate the mood. When they find a family that will give shelter (prearranged) the children say a prayer of thanks and place statuettes of Mary and Joesph on the family’s nacimiento. These go on for nine nights in a row. The symbolism is a reenactment of the journey Mary and Joseph made to Bethlehem. The nightly journeys can also end at the local church where candies and small toys, provided by members of the community, are passed out to the excited children.
On the ninth night, Christmas Eve or Buena Noche, the children finally place a figurine of Jesus in the church’s nativity scene. The community gathers for a candlelit midnight mass. After mass church bells ring and fireworks light the early Christmas morning. After mass, children receive presents from Santa.
Nacimientos can be astoundingly impressive nativity sets that can vary widely from house to house. Camels, country folk, lambs, donkeys, fishermen, ranchers….you name it! Figurines of every profession and various scales cavort on carpets of fresh pine needles or fake grass. The displays can get quite elaborate and occupy the greater part of the family’s largest room. We have seen nacimientos outfitted with grass covered hillsides, bridges and outbuildings. Some have moving parts, working lights and waterfalls. Every year people add new elements. Special markets are set up throughout December where you can purchase all manner of quirky sculptures and figurines to turn your own nacimiento into a crazy cavalcade of joyful anticipation. Fresh moss and flowers complete the display.
Christmas day is a time for family and feasting. So what’s on the menu typically?
- Pozole Rojo – a hearty soup with hominy and pork
- Chicken or pork tamales – wrapped in corn husks and steamed to perfection
- Roasted pork leg – as in many cultures, pork is a meat for great days and parties!
- Buñuelos – light, crispy cookie disks that are sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon and maybe a bit of syrup
- And check out these other tasty delights on Pinterest!
But the fun isn’t over yet because Mexicans like to consider the entirety of the Christmas story in their celebrations! So after Mary and Joseph’s ordeals and the birth of Christ and all, they celebrate the arrival of the Magis, or Three Kings. Mexicans call is Dia de Reyes. Children receive presents from the kings on the eve of January 6th. The next day there is a special supper that includes hot chocolate with cinnamon and vanilla and a ring shaped cake, the rosca de reyes, decorated with colorfully dyed dried fruit. Somewhere inside is a plastic baby Jesus. Whoever gets that piece gets to host a tamale party on February 2, Candlemas Day or dia de la Candelaria. When the last tamale is just a memory, Christmas is officially over, but luckily Easter is just around the corner!!
Dia de la Candelaria
Oh and this is the day when you dress up your nacimientos baby Jesus figure, your Niños Dios, and take him to the church for a special blessing. Go ahead and buy a new outfit for your baby Jesus. Spend some quality time in the booths set up with the latest in handmade outfits for your little Jesus. These can get quite elaborate and start with the undergarments out to the sparkly finery. You will see ladies carefully carrying their baby Jesus proudly showing off the new outfit.
Let us help you experience some of this truly breathtaking and joyful Mexican Christmas. We love celebrating Christmas at Rancho Las Cascadas. Get in touch!