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Christmas in Mexico is something that everybody should experience at least once in their lives.
Christmas in Mexican capitol (Mexican City) and other Mexican cities is great but Christmas in traditional Mexican towns and villages is something really special and unique.
Mexicans, in general, are religious however Mexican people that live in the rural parts of Mexico are very religious and traditional.
If you would like to experience something special and beautiful, you should visit a village, or small town, in Central Mexico during the Christmas celebrations.
During the nine day period between 16th of December and December 24 Mexicans have, what they call, the Posadas.
The Posadas is nine day celebration of the upcoming Holy Night when Jesus Christ our savior was born.
During the Posadas family members, friends and neighbors take part in acting out the night when St. Joseph and Virgin Mary were looking for lodging.
Every night there is one family that is prescheduled to be the host of the Posada for that particular night; while the rest of the family, friends and neighbors sing traditional Mexican Christmas songs, carry candles and two small statues of St. Joseph and Virgin Mary and seek lodging.
They seek lodging in three different places (homes or shops) but only the third one would allow them in. Once inside, everybody gathers around the traditional Mexican nativity scene and say the Christmas prayers together.
After the prayers are said everybody sing the Christmas songs and the party can begin.
The Posada is not as festive as most of Mexican parties, but it is the time that the family and friends get to spend together in prayers and joy.
This is only a small part of traditional Christmas celebrations in Mexico, and it is only an introduction to the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day however it is enough to understand why the Christmas time in Mexico is beautiful and special.
Mexican Christmas traditions are an eclectic mixture of indigenous cultures such as the Aztec and Mayan cultures, European cultures, (primarily Spanish) and since recently USA culture.
For example the nine day period of the celebration of Jesus Christ known as the Posadas (December 16th - December 24th) coincides with the period of time when the Aztec used to worship their sun god.
In traditional Mexican towns and villages every night one family is prescheduled to be the host for the night and give the lodging to family members, friends and neighbors that go through the neighborhood and act out the time when St. Joseph and Virgin Mari were seeking lodging just before the birth of Jesus.
Once everybody is in the house they gather around the Christmas Nativity scene and pray. They pray together and out loud. After the prayers are said everybody starts singing the traditional Mexican Christmas songs and the party can begin.
Probably one of the most famous Mexican Christmas customs is the "piñata". Piñata is decorated cardboard container stuffed with candies and fruits that the children are supposed to break while blindfolded. After they succeed the candies and fruits are all around and the children are more than happy.
In the northern part of Mexico traditional gift giving is on the night of December 24th. However in southern Mexico the gifts are received on January 6th (the Day of Three Kings).
How do Mexicans celebrate Christmas? What makes Mexican Christmas traditions unique and special?
Families of traditional Mexican homes (most of them are in rural areas of Mexico) celebrate Christmas as they ancestors did.
The most important parts of Mexican Christmas Customs are: Posada and the Holy Night.
Posada is the event of celebration that takes place in the Mexican homes between the December 16th and the Holy Night (December 24th). During this event, family members, friends and neighbors all take part in acting out the night when St. Joseph and Virgin Mary were looking for lodging.
The participants of Posada sing traditional songs and carry candles and two small statues of St. Joseph and Virgin Mary while going through the neighborhood and seeking lodging. They will seek lodging in three different places (shops or houses) but only the third one will allow them in.
Those nine days are the darkest, and the shortest days in a year so the Aztecs used to pray to the sun god for his return, and on the December 25th he would always return and the day would be a little bit longer than the darkest day in the year (December 24th).
Inside the house, that is predetermined to have the Posada for that evening, there is a Nativity scene around which everybody gathers, kneels and starts praying. After the prayers are said everybody joins in singing traditional Christmas songs and the party can begin.
Children get the special treat because there is a Pinata ready for them to break it and harvest all its “treasures”. Pinata is a made out of cardboard, decorated with crepe paper and stuffed with peanuts, sugar canes, and many types of candy.
Children are taking turns while trying blindfolded to break the Pinata with a stick. After his or hers successful attempt fruits and candy are all around which makes children very excited and happy. As you can see Mexican Christmas traditions are not only religious and interesting but fun as well.
Adults enjoy the Punch which is a hot beverage made out of seasonal fruits and cinnamon sticks with a little or none alcohol.
On December 24th all Mexicans go to church to attend midnight Mass. Afterwards family gathers at home for a family dinner. Also, all family friends that have nowhere to go to for Christmas Eve are invited to share and enjoy traditional Mexican Christmas foods and drinks that hosts have prepared.
During the Christmas Eve Mexicans play or listen to traditional Mexican Christmas music and sing Christmas songs. Colorful Mexican Christmas decorations add to the joyful atmosphere as well as storytelling of the elders.
Traditional Mexican Christmas Eve is all about family, friendship, love, sharing, happiness and joy.
Even though children do not receive presents on Christmas Day they receive all the above which will be in their hearts long after the joy and memory of presents fades away. This however doesn’t mean that children don’t receive presents during holidays but only that they need to wait a bit longer than American or European children.
The New Years Eve is another important date during the Mexican Christmas Holiday. On this night Mexican families go to church to attend a midnight Mass and give their thanks for all the blessings they have received during the year.
On the day of the Kings (January 6th) children place their shoes by the window and go to bad with excitement because if they have been good, there would be a present for them in the morning in, or next to, their shoes. Interesting thing is that in the past many children received new pair of shoes as present.
Unfortunately, the globalization is more and more present in urban parts of Mexico where many do not practice Mexican Christmas Traditions. This is really sad because who will preserve Traditional Mexican culture if Mexicans give up on it?
The most important parts of Mexican decorations for Christmas are the Nativity scene and Mexican Christmas tree ornaments.
The authentic and hand made Mexican Christmas nativity set and Mexican Christmas ornaments you can order on internet and get them from Mexico, or you can buy them in specialized Christmas shops in the United States.
You should know however that on line you have bigger choice of Mexican Christmas ornaments and they usually cost less than the ones sold in stores.
Also, no matter where and how you buy them they are usually not cheep which is one of the reasons why it is good to make some ornaments yourself.
Another, and more important, reason why you should make some Mexican Christmas ornaments with your children and other family members is that it is a lot of fun and children love doing it.
Also, you can use that opportunity to teach your children about traditional Mexican culture, famous and important Mexican people, accomplishments, places, Mexican way of living and so on.
Some of the interesting and representative Mexican Christmas ornaments that you can buy or make are: Our lady of Guadalupe, Mexican Bells, Sombrero ornaments, Mexican Loteria Christmas ornaments, Mexican chili peppers ornaments, Mexican flag ornament, Mexican skull Christmas ornaments, angels ornaments, etc.
There are many other Mexican Christmas ornaments that can be part of your Mexican Christmas decor. In fact, the only thing that can limit your choice of the ornaments is your knowledge about Mexican culture.
In other words, you can make an ornament about anything you see as important part of traditional or modern Mexican culture.
A side from the Nativity set and Christmas ornaments you can buy some ribbons and balloons in red, white and green colors and place them around the house and of course don't forget about the Mexican Christmas lantern decorations.
Did you know that you whole Christmas tree can be a beautiful display of traditional Mexican culture?
Firs and foremost, if you would like your Christmas to be special and truly in Mexican spirit you would need the Mexican Christmas Nativity set.
There are many Mexican Christmas nativity sets that you can choose from. Some of them are hand made, with a lot of details, and of course they cost much more than the ordinary Christmas nativity sets.
However, Christmas is not about money which means that the only important thing is to have the Mexican Christmas nativity scene.
If you have children, than you should definitely try to make the nativity scene together with them, instead of buying it.
Did you know that you can make your Christmas tree truly Mexican?
In fact, your Christmas tree can be an open book of traditional Mexican culture, including the most important symbols of the Mexican culture, famous Mexican people, accomplishments and places.
In order to make the Christmas tree Mexican you would need: red, green and white ribbons, Mexican bells ornaments, Mexican flag glass Christmas ornament, angels ornaments, sombrero ornaments, Mexican skull Christmas ornament, Mexican Loteria Christmas ornaments, Our Lady of Guadalupe Christmas tree ornament, Mexican chili peppers ornaments, and so in.
In other words, you would need to get as many Mexican culture’s symbols as possible (in form of Christmas ornaments).
If you can’t find them all don’t despair because the real fun is to make Christmas ornaments with you children and family members. Children enjoy making ornaments very much, which is great thing because you can use their enthusiasm to teach them about traditional Mexican culture.
In fact, if you live in the United States and you whish your children to know important things about their Mexican origin, we strongly recommend that you make some Christmas ornaments with your children while telling them stories about Mexican history, music, clothing, accomplishments, way of living, religion, and so on.
Remember, children learn best when they are not forced to learn but when it comes natural, especially when it is part of playing. Making Mexican Christmas tree is a lot of fun and you and your family should enjoy it as millions of Mexican Americans do every year.
Get you whole family together, put the traditional Mexican Christmas music on and let the joy of Christmas spirit enter your home and into your heart and hearts of your loved ones.
Second most important part of Mexican Christmas decorations, after the Nativity scene, are the Christmas Ornaments.
If you find it difficult to make the Nativity set than you should buy it, and you should try to make the Mexican Christmas tree ornaments with your children. This is because some Christmas ornaments are relatively easy to make and children enjoy making them.
Another good thing about making the Christmas tree ornaments with you children is that you have a great opportunity to teach them about traditional Mexican culture while playing with them at the same time.
Some of the classical Mexican Christmas tree ornaments are: Our lady of Guadalupe (Virgin of Guadalupe), Angels, Mexican cross, Mexican flag, Mexican chili pepper, Sombrero, Cactus, Skeleton Sombrero, Day of the Dead Christmas ornaments, Mexican Loteria Christmas ornaments, Famous Mexican people Christmas ornaments, Mexican Bells, and so on.
Of course, some of these Mexican Christmas tree ornaments are more difficult to make than others so choose wisely which Christmas ornaments you want to make.
Mexicans have many holidays and celebrations which is one of many reasons why it is great and interesting to visit Mexico.
Mexicans are very religious people and since close to 95% of Mexicans are Christians, Christmas time (period between 16th and 24th December) is very special in Mexico.
During the Posadas everything is special in Mexico, including the food, music, drinks, children games (breaking the piñata), prayers, etc.
As stated above, one of the things that makes Mexican Christmas extraordinary is traditional Mexican food that is made only during the Christmas time (16th - 24th December).
However, before going any further you should know that Mexico is very diverse country. This diversity reflects on many things including the kinds of food Mexican people (from certain region) eat for Christmas.
For example Mexicans that live in the Northern Mexican states that border with the United States eat primarily turkey during Christmas time.
This is because these Mexican states are greatly influenced by the American culture. Of course they also eat traditional Mexican food but not as much as Mexican central and southern states.
On the other side in other Mexican states that don't border the USA Mexicans eat traditional Mexican Christmas food such as: Bacalao, Pozole, Tamales, Romeritos, Bunuelos, Champurrado, Mexican Christmas Ponche, etc.
Bacalao is traditional Mexican Christmas Eve dish. This very tasteful Mexican fish meal is made with codfish, tomatoes, olives, onion, and chilies.
Pozole is traditional Mexican dish from the Pacific coast region of Jalisco. It is made with pork, hominy, corn grains, garlic, chicken, red chilies.
Tamales is Mexican dish made of starchy dough which is boiled in a leaf wrapper. Tamales can be filled with anything you wish including meats, cheese, chilies, vegetables, etc. The wrapping is discarded before eating.
Romeritos is a typical Mexican dish made with a wild plant known as Romerito and dried shrimps.
Bunuelos is very tasteful Mexican Christmas dessert made only during the Christmas time.
A side from Mexican Christmas dishes there are also Christmas beverages that are prepared only during the Christmas.
Champurrado for example, is Mexican Christmas beverage made with chocolate, corn flour and cinnamon. Of course there is no Posadas without the famous Mexican Ponche which is Mexican punch spiced up with some alcohol.
I was raised in an ordinary American family where there is not enough time for anything but work.
The most important thing was always to work, so that there is food on the table, car in a driveway, clothes in the closets, television set in every room in the house (including the kitchen), numerous gadgets throughout the house, and so on.
The only special time my family had was Christmas time and not because we were all together in the house but because we (the children) always got the best presents in the neighborhood.
For long time I thought that the only magical things about the Christmas were the presents I got from my parents and grandparents.
It is only until recently that I realized that Christmas time can be so special, emotional, and beautiful.
Four months ago I was unable to fly home for Christmas because I just finished my master degree and got this great job at the most prestige company.
In order to prove my dedication and professionalism I decided to stay and work during the holidays (Christmas and New Years Eve).
So, I was in the office on the day of the December 24th and I was going through some documents and organizing them in alphabetic order.
At one point some Mexican American guy, dressed like a janitor and with a toolbox came to my office and asked if there is anything that needs fixing.
I looked at him as if he were an alien and said "no". Then he approached my desk and said "If there is nothing broken how come you are sitting here all alone on a Christmas day?"
"What a nerve" I thought and I didn't even bother answering him. Few moments of silence "then he spoke again".
"Would you like to come and have the Mexican Christmas diner with my family?"
I couldn't believe that he just asked me that! "The guy must be stoned or crazy" I thought to myself and I replayed to him "No".
Then he just set in the $10 000 lather chair and looked at me with the most gentle, friendly and deep look that I have ever experienced in my life. And believe me I had experienced numerous men looking and staring at me because I'm quite an attractive woman.
He was looking at me like as if I was a lost and frighten pappy. Then at one point (after about 5 minutes of silence) I put down the documents and said "Yes".
Now I got him confused! He definitely didn't expect that one coming or at least I thought so.
He immediately stood up and said: "Let's go".
"Let's go where?" I replied.
"To my parent's house for traditional Mexican Christmas diner, everybody is there already and waiting for us."
"Don't you think is too soon that you take me to your parents house?" I said with a smile while putting on my coat.
"You are a very special, strange and unique woman."
"Thank you. You are a serial killer, Christmas angel or crazy janitor."
He smiled and opened the door
If you would like to have the traditional and authentic Mexican Christmas party you should be prepared to make your home very decorative, joyful and festive.
The reason for this is because Mexicans are very joyful people and they love bright colors, music with a fast rhythm, great Mexican food, strong traditional Mexican drinks (like Tequila), and of `course they love to dance.
Therefore, first thing you would need is Mexican Christmas decor which includes: the Mexican Christmas Nativity set (scene), the flag (or the poster) of the Our Lady of Guadalupe, many ribbons and balloons in green, white and red colors, Mexican Christmas candles, and of course the Mexican Christmas tree (a Christmas tree decorated with traditional Mexican ornaments).
Second thing you would need for your perfect Mexican Christmas party is traditional Mexican food. This part is the most difficult one, especially if you don't know how to prepare the traditional Mexican Christmas foods yourself.
However, if you are not handy in the kitchen that doesn't mean that you are doomed. There are many Mexican restaurants across the United States, including your neighborhood. The only thing you need to do is to order, in time, the Mexican Christmas food you want.
After you took care of the decorations and the food you can pick a Mexican Christmas party theme.
The Christmas party themes can be divided into two major categories: the party themes for adults and the party themes for children.
Now, since the Christmas is a holiday that is almost impossible to imagine without the family, which means that there are always children around, your theme should be entertaining for both children and the adults.
The good news is that children are very easy to please. The only thing you need for the kids is the piñata so that they can play "break the piñata" game, mini Sombrero so that they can play "Where is the Sombrero" game and Mexican music with a fast rhythm so that they can dance to it.
The adults, on the other hand are not that easy to entertain but the good news is that there are many Mexican Christmas games for adults that you can use to make your Mexican Christmas party unique and unforgettable experience.