Mexico is known for being a country full of history, vibrant colors, spicy food, lively music and traditions. If you are planning on traveling to Mexico during your Christmas vacation you will witness one of their most important Catholic festivities of the year.
A “Posada” is the reenactment of the Mary and Joseph’s pilgrimage to Bethlehem in search of a place where to give birth to baby Jesus. Mexican families customarily hold a posada party for 9 days, one evening in each of their homes.
Friends and family hold tiny candles on their hands and are divided into two groups: one group stays inside a home, while the others wait outside. Both parties sing a specific song that represents how the holy couple went asking at every house they visited if they could come in and stay. The group that remains outside responds negatively to their request until the last portion of the song, where the Holy family is finally welcomed into a stable.
osada parties involve delicious food such as the traditional tamales, atole (hot corn based drink), buñuelos (fine deep fried pastries sprinkled with sugar). Beer, tequila and rum are usually served along with home made fruit punch. Adults and children break the famous piñatas filled with candy or in the more traditional way with sugar canes, jícama, peanuts, oranges and tangerines.
On December 24 or Noche Buena, traditional Christmas meals are served, which include Bacalao (dry salted cod fish) specially prepared Vizcaina style with tomatoes, almonds, capers, olives, and potatoes. Romeritos, these are a fine green herbs served with shrimp cakes and doused in mole, and Pozole, a delicious (green, red or white) soup made with pork or chicken and corn, garnished with shredded lettuce, sliced radishes, oregano, onion and lime. Stuffed turkey or pork are also part of the Christmas menu.
Families exchange gifts on Noche Buena. Children are usually gifted with clothes because on January 5th they leave a shoe on their windowsill to find it filled with toys and other gifts on the next day, commemorating the “Día de Reyes” or day of the Wise Men, who gave Jesus gifts and offerings.
December 31st has its special and fun traditions – if you are invited to dinner at someone’s house, this is what you’ll experience. As soon as midnight strikes, you will have to eat 12 grapes, one for each month of the year, and make a wish for each one. You will then be handed a broom so you can sweep all the old negative energy out of the house. Grab a suitcase with a few clothes in it and go round the block – this will bring travel in the new year. And don’t forget to wear red underwear to attract love or yellow for money!
So if you are thinking about spending your Christmas in Mexico, between posadas, Noche Buena and December 31st, be prepared to try delicious food and learn more about their culture and traditions.