Mexico is full of culture and traditions and both are a result of a melting pot between the Spanish empire clashing and merging with ancient Mexican cultures. Mexican Christmas festivities will last from December 12 through February 2nd. Here are the most representative Mexican Christmas traditions you can enjoy:
The Posadas take place each night from December 16 through December 24, they commemorate the arrival of expectant Mary with her husband Joseph to Bethlehem, in search for a place where to give birth to the Christ child. The last posada takes place at a house with a manger where baby Jesus is placed and is surrounded by shepherds, animals, and the three wise men.
Traditional tamales are served as well as atole (a hot corn based drink), bueñuelos (dough fried in thin layers topped with sugar and cinnamon) and a delicious hot ponche, a mixture of fruit punch and wine. The piñata cannot be missed, it becomes an activity for all family members to enjoy.
The Pastorela (Shepherd’s play) is performed around Christmas time. It is an oral tradition passed on through generations, originated in the times of the Spanish religious, political and economical conquest of Mexico, where the Catholic Church taught the Bible through dramatization.
The Pastorela recreates the journey of the shepherds in their search for baby Jesus. The shepherds confront the devil who does everything he can to prevent them from finding Jesus. In the end, the Archangel Michael triumphs over evil and the shepherds continue to the manger. Children from around Mexico participate in Pastorelas at their schools by acting, singing, and dancing. Most of these plays tend to be comical and satirical and when performed for an adult audience they include politics and spicy humor.
The “Nacimiento” or (Mexican nativity scenes) is a scaled representation of the birth of Christ in the manger and is one of the most beloved Christmas traditions in Mexico. You will find one in every Mexican home, office or school. From simple recreations to huge and elaborate scaled Nativity sets that will include mountains, lakes, animals, wells, houses and even tiny towns.
Some cities, towns and neighborhoods organize nativity contests due to the detailed work this tradition involves. In Mexico you can find nativity sets made of clay, silver, wood, leather, woven straw, papier maché, brass, wood or onix among other materials and find precious works of art.
This is the name given to the Mexican Christmas carols, some are translated versions of English Christmas carols such as “Silent Night” however, there are some unique carols inherited from Spain during the years of Conquest and colonization of Mexico. These carols mainly sing about baby Jesus being born.
As with every celebration in Mexico, food is an important aspect and plenty of time is put into cooking for family and friends. These are the classical Christmas dishes you will find in every home and most restaurants: tamales (cornmeal dumplings with a variety of fillings inside them), romeritos, turkey, cod, pozole (Mexican soup that is made from pork and/or chicken, then seasoned with chili and garlic), buñuelos (crispy treats that look like tostadas, sprinkled with fine sugar or with syrup), ponche navideño (hot fruit punch that is made from Mexican hawthorn).
If you visit Mexico during this holiday season, these are some Mexican Christmas traditions you will be sure to find.