Christmas is coming. It is the season when many Americans spend time decorating trees and organizing holiday parties, all before heading to the mall for last minute shopping. South of the border in Mexico, things are a little bit different.
In Mexico, Christmas is more strongly rooted in the religious significance of the holiday than the secular celebration it has become in the U.S. The Mexican Christmas season begins on Dec. 9 and lasts until Jan. 6 with a final festival held on Feb. 2. Keep reading to learn about the traditions that make up this two-month long celebration.
The Nativity Scene
Although many Mexican families follow the tradition of decking out a Christmas tree, a far more popular tradition is to set up a Nativity Scene at home. There are strict guidelines for these displays, which are called Nacimientos in Spanish. On Dec. 16, the Nativity Scene is first displayed without baby Jesus or the Three Kings. On Christmas Eve, baby Jesus is added, followed by the Three Kings who appear on Jan. 5. Typically these displays are left up until at least Feb. 5.
To recall Mary and Joseph's search for lodging, from Dec. 16 until Christmas Eve, Mexicans hold evening processions called "Las Posadas." These nightly processions wind through a local neighborhood until reaching a predetermined home. When the members of the procession reach the home, they begin to sing "La Cancion Para Pedir Posada." The lyrics of the song ask the homeowner, who plays the part of an inn keeper, if there are any rooms at the inn. The homeowner, responds by singing that the inn is full. The song continues, switching back and forth between the procession and the homeowner, until the procession is finally allowed to enter the house. Once inside the home, everyone celebrates with a party.
Just like in the U.S., food plays a huge role in celebrating Christmas in Mexico. Instead of a Christmas Ham and Eggnog, though, Mexicans enjoy their own special seasonal treats. Some of the more popular recipes include:
Bacalao a la
, which is traditionally served on Christmas Eve. This dish is made from dried, salted cod and served with tomatoes, potatoes, capers, olives and red peppers.
Rosca de Reyes, a sweetened bread formed into the shape of a Christmas wreath and decorated with images of Jesus. This dish is particularly popular during the last days of the Christmas celebration.
Ponche con piquete, a spiced fruit punch spiked with wine or liquor.
During this year's Christmas season, why not experience authentic Mexican food at Papa Lopez Mexican Cantina in Allen, Texas? Papa Lopez Mexican Cantina is the perfect place to either relax after work or to bring your entire family for a great meal. We hope to see you this holiday season!