In Mexico, Christmas is not merely a one day event. For almost a month the entire nation is filled with festivities, songs, laughter, good food, and many “Feliz Navidad’s” (Merry Christmas in Spanish). In fact, from December 12th to January 6th Mexico’s various celebrations, ceremonies, and traditions are kept.
Posada (Spanish for “Inn”) is one popular tradition. Start December 16th, Mexican children preform the Posada processions. These are named for the Inn where Jesus was born. The processions often occur through areas in which the houses are decorated in with evergreens, lights, lanterns, and other Christmas decor. Children hold candles, small figures, or other props and sing as they march toward their destination. Their destination is inevitably some house in the town which will welcome all the children in (contrasting the nativity story) and provide food, games, and sometimes fireworks. A different house participates each night.
Nativity Scenes and Christmas Trees
Nativity scenes (“nacimiento” in Spanish) are wildly popular in Mexico. Homeowners go all out in their nativity scenes, featuring figurines that are often life sized. Sometimes an entire room will be dedicated to the nativity scene, allowing plenty of room for extravagant decorations and creativity. In the spirit of artistic liberty, nontraditional figures are sometimes added to the scene. People doing normal activities such as selling items in a market or preparing tortillas are common. Occasionally even animals such as flamingos will grace the nativity scenes. However, to soothe the traditional conscious, the figurine of Baby Jesus is usually not added until Christmas Eve. Christmas trees have become popular in Mexico, but they take a backseat to the extravagant “nacimiento.”
Christmas Eve in Mexico
Christmas Eve (in Spanish “Noche Buena”) is usually the day Mexican families come together in a culmination of celebration and tradition. This day often includes a final Posada, filled with the best games, most grandiose activities, and an extraordinarily large meal. When the clock begins to approach midnight, many people head to the “Misa de Gallo” which is the traditional midnight Mass service to celebrate Christmas. Christmas Eve is often celebrated with many fireworks.
Christmas in Mexico: Other Traditions
There are many other Christmas traditions, some of which are not universal practiced. For instance, in some Mexican states, children expect presents on Christmas Eve Day, while most southern states give gifts on January 6th, which is “El Dia de los Reyes” or “The Day of the Kings.” December 28th is celebrated in a fun way much like April Fools in the U.S. Most families and communities conclude the Christmas celebrations on Jan 6th, with presents or candy (for the children who already received their gifts). However, some communities insist on celebrating right through Candelaria (Candlemas) on February 2nd, which is the official end of the Christmas season.
Here’s a fun fact about Christmas: the largest angel ornament ever to be made hails from Mexico. In January of 2001, Sergio Rodriguez, from Nuevo Leon. The angel stood 18’3” high and wings reached out almost 12 feet! Shockingly, the entire ornament was made out of 2946 old beer bottles!
Along with the traditions, celebrations, costumes, and fun times, part of the beauty of Mexican culture is the delicious food. No Mexican event is complete without a robust and tasty menu. At Ixtapa Mexican Grill & Cantina, we make authentic Mexican food that will help you have a Feliz Navidad no matter where you are.