Christmas in Mexico has a religious undercurrent, especially in religious homes and rural areas. The first thing to know about the Christmas celebration in Mexico is that everyone takes last two weeks off in December-for partying, for spending more time with the family, visiting old friends and to make new friends. Christmas celebrations in Mexico start on December 16th with "Las Posadas" which means "candle light processions" and many lively parties for nine consecutive days. Coming to towns, even weeks before Christmas, stalls and Puestos are set up in plazas and people travel extensively to reach these markets. These Puestos have all kinds of crafts, food items such as bananas, cheese, nuts, cookies along with flowers such as orchids and poinsettias. The entire Mexico endears a festive mood and colourful lights can be seen everywhere. In addition to this, the flag raising and lowering ceremony, which is a characteristic of holidays, is also observed with due diligence.
Celebrating Las Posadas
Mexico starts the celebrations with Las Posadas. In villages and urban areas, youth reenact the quest of Joseph and Mary for lodging in Bethlehem. The procession sees people taking up the role of Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the angels, the three kings and the shepherds. The procession stops at certain places to sing the traditional songs with the Holy family, requesting for shelter. At their third stop, when they are welcomed to the inn to take refuge, children say prayers of thanks and indulge in party food, games and fireworks.
Final Posada On Christmas Eve
The posada party is organized every night by each and every house. On the final Posada on Christmas Eve, a manger, along with figures of shepherds, is put onto board. Once the Posada house is found, baby Jesus is put into the manger after which the families go to midnight church service. Fireworks follow the church service to mark the beginning of Christmas.
The Story Of Poinsettia Flower
Poinsettia flowers, which have their origins in Mexico, are extensively used in Christmas celebrations here. Legend has it that a little boy named Pablo was walking to a shrine in his village to see baby Jesus and had nothing to offer the child. Having seen greenish branches that grew everywhere, he collected them and laid them on the manter though other children teased him. But to the surprise of others, red-shaped flowers soon appeared on each branch. Thus, the flower Poinsettia was found.
On Christmas day, blindfolded kids take turns to break a pinata which swings at the end of a rope. Pinata is a ball made of clay and is filled with sweets. After the pinata is broken, sweets pour of it and further add to the delight of the children.
Eating 'Rosca de Reyes'
Children receive presents on January 6th, i.e. on the Feast of Epiphany, when gifts are given by the Three Kings. It is a tradition to eat a cake on Epiphany called 'Rosca de Reyes' in which a tiny figure of baby Jesus is hidden. The person who gets the baby Jesus in the piece of cake is considered as the godparent of Jesus for that particular year.
Candelaria Marks The End
Candelaria, which is on February 2nd, marks the end of Christmas celebrations in Mexico. It is believed that on this day, Jesus was taken to the temple as a baby and was officially renamed. Mexicans engage in parties on Candelaria.
Every Christmas tradition in Mexico has a religious undertone and Mexicans celebrate all traditions for almost one and half months with such vigour that is instantly appealing and highly infectious.