Christmas in Mexico is celebrated annually on the 25th of December, as in many other parts of the world.
Christmas in Mexico is a colorful and lively holiday celebrated with a mix of religious traditions and festive customs. The holiday season, known as "Navidad," is a time for family gatherings, cheerful decorations, and a strong sense of community. Here's how Christmas is typically celebrated in Mexico:
One of the most important Mexican Christmas traditions is the celebration of the Posadas. These are a series of processions and reenactments of Mary and Joseph's search for a place to stay in Bethlehem. The Posadas begin on December 16th and continue for nine nights, representing the nine months of Mary's pregnancy. Each night, families and neighbors gather, and one household is designated as the "inn" where the reenactment takes place. After the Posada, there are festivities with traditional foods and piñatas.
These are traditional Christmas plays or pageants that depict the journey of the shepherds to visit the baby Jesus. They are performed in schools, churches, and communities.
Mexican homes and streets are adorned with colorful lights, nativity scenes, and poinsettias, known as "Nochebuenas." The poinsettia is native to Mexico and has become a symbol of Christmas.
Elaborate nativity scenes, known as "nacimientos," are a common sight in Mexican homes and churches. These displays often include intricate figurines and represent the birth of Jesus.
Villancicos are traditional Mexican Christmas carols that are sung during the Posadas and other holiday celebrations. These songs are joyful and often accompanied by traditional instruments.
Christmas Eve, known as "Nochebuena," is the most important night of the holiday season. Families come together for a festive meal that typically includes traditional Mexican dishes. One of the most common foods is bacalao (salted codfish), but tamales, ponche (fruit punch), and buñuelos (fried dough) are also popular.
Attending the midnight Mass, known as "Misa de Gallo," is a significant part of the Christmas Eve celebration. It is a time for religious reflection and celebration.
While gift-giving is not as central to Mexican Christmas traditions as it is in some other countries, some families exchange presents on Christmas Eve, and children often receive gifts from "El Niño Dios" (the baby Jesus).
It is a Mexican tradition to sing "Las Mañanitas" to celebrate a person's birthday or other special occasions. This tradition is often extended to Christmas Day, with people serenading family members and friends early in the morning.
Fireworks and firecrackers are a common part of Christmas celebrations, especially on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
In Mexico, the Christmas season extends to the Feast of the Epiphany, known as "Día de Reyes." On this day (January 6th), children receive gifts from the Three Wise Men or "Los Reyes Magos."
Christmas in Mexico is a festive and colorful holiday, characterized by the blending of Christian traditions and indigenous customs. It's a time for family gatherings, lively celebrations, and a strong sense of community, with an emphasis on faith, togetherness, and the joy of the season.
Mexican Christmas traditions are not influenced by the American way. Rather they are homegrown and based mainly on Mexico's form of Roman Catholicism. Popular cultural traditions in Mexico, called "posadas", have also given rise to several traditions observed here during Christmas.
Mexican Christmas celebrations begin on December 12, with the birthday of "La Guadalupana" (Virgin of Guadalupe), and end on January 6, with the Epiphany. Children usually do not attend school on January 6. They wake up early in the morning to find gifts or toys kept in their room and figures of the Three Magic Kings at "El Nacimiento". Like Santa Claus in the US and other western nations, the Three Wise Men are the ones believed to bring gifts not only to baby Jesus but also to millions of Mexican children who have placed written requests in their shoes. Also unlike in the US where children get presents on 25th December, most Mexican kids recieve their gifts at Epiphany (January 6th).
The construction of the "Nacimiento" or "El Nacimiento" (Nativity scene) is a popular custom here, as in many other countries. During the festive season, almost every family creates a Nativity scene in their home. At midnight on Christmas, a figure of baby Jesus is placed in the nacimientos to commemorate the birth of the Lord. This is a symbolic representation of Christmas in Mexico as a whole.
On Christmas Eve another verse is added to the Ave Marias, telling the Virgin Mary that the desired night has come. Small children dressed as shepherds stand on either side of the nativity scene while members of the company kneel and sing a litany, after which the Christ Child is lulled to sleep with the cradle song, "El Rorro" (Babe in Arms).
At midnight on Christmas Eve, dazzling fireworks, ringing bells and blowing whistles announce the birth of Christ. The bell-sounds beckon families to the Midnight Mass. Thousands flock to the churches to attend the well-known "Misa de Gallo" or "Mass of the Rooster." It is called the "Mass of the Rooster" because it is said that the only time that a rooster crowed at midnight was on the day that Jesus was born. The Mass over, families return home for a sumptuous Christmas dinner of traditional Mexican foods. Though the dishes vary from region to region, common foods are "tamales," rice, rellenos, "atole" (a sweet traditional drink) and "menudo".