Christmas practices evolve from time to time. For some not
too much changes they just become practices that are passed on from generation
to generation. These Christmas practices are then what create a part of a
person’s culture. In Mexico, despite the predominately Catholic influence,
Christmas season shows the unity that exists within their general population
disregarding nationality or other religions.

In Mexico, the Christmas culture has formed in its way that
dates back to centuries ago. Many of these traditions and customs are still
prevalent today and consist of music, lights, parties and food. However, some
of the most recognized traditions are the Villancicos, and Las Posadas, or
Novenas. A good percentage of Mexico’s general population follow the Catholic
religion where Christmas is vital. Christmas celebrations in Mexico generally
begin from December 12th to January 6th. December 12th
is a religious holiday for Catholics that celebrates and honors the Virgin of
Guadalupe, the mother of God. From December 16th to Christmas Eve
children perform the Posada processions. There are typically nine Posadas which
celebrate and symbolize the story of Joseph and Mary when they were in search
for somewhere to stay (Kastelein, 2001). Each night a different household hosts
the Posada, and on the final Posada which is on Christmas Eve families go to church
to listen to mass at nighttime. During these Posada festivities, there is one
game that is often played by children and it’s called the Piñata. A piñata is a
decorated ball filled with candy and other sweets inside and has seven spikes
sticking out that represent the seven deadly sins. The Piñata has now been used
for other celebrations like birthdays but it is still very prevalent during the
Christmas season with Mexican traditions.

Moving on, Villancicos are Christmas carols with religious
connotations that are used in various forms to celebrate the arrival of Jesus
(Kastelein, 2001). “Villancicos originated in medieval Spain and were very
popular in the late 18th century”. In the late 20th
century the term villancicos was seemingly replaced with what we know of today
as Christmas carols. Thus, carols sung in Mexico during the Christmas season
more so than ever seem to advertise Catholicism.

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Mexican households that live within the rural areas decorate
with flowers and evergreens (Kastelein, 2001). Every night there are many “groups
of Santos peregrinos or holy pilgrims that assemble for the procession of Las
Posadas” (Kastelein, 83). These groups of holy pilgrims will carry candles and
sing along the way reenacting the story of how Mary and Joseph were traveling from
house to house asking people for permission to stay in their homes. In
preparation for Noche Buena, families will attend the Misa Del Gallo, or
Rooster Mass which is during the night of December 24th (Kastelein,
2001). Another tradition during the Christmas season that is very popular in
Mexico are Pastorelas. What that is-is a form of amusement by influential
Catholic followers that reenact bible passages in a way to allow their audience
to firmly believe the true meaning of Christmas and Jesus.    

The Christmas tree was introduced to Mexican culture,
influenced by American culture, but with the slight difference that in a
Catholic Mexican household, the Nativity scene is significantly much more
symbolic in which it symbolizes Jesus birth. Christmas trees have now become
popular in Mexico however the Nativity scene still remains as the most important
decoration. Another popular decoration in Mexico are NocheBuenas which in the
United States are red poinsettia flowers (Kastelein, 83). Here is a quick story
of Noche Buena…

“There is a Mexican legend about
how the flowers came to be associated with Christmas . . . One Christmas Eve (nochebuena) a poor girl
picked a few weeds to bring to church for the baby Jesus, for she could not
afford anything else. The other people in her neighborhood looked down on her,
but she believed that Jesus would appreciate any gift given in love. When she
arrived at church, the weeds bloomed into a wonderful bunch of red flowers with
thick green leaves. Then all the people around knew that they had witnessed a
true Christmas miracle” (McKeown, 2017).

On a final note, traditionally in Mexico, El Nino Jesus or
Christ Child receives gifts instead from the three kinds instead of Santa. Also,
children in Mexico expect gifts on January 6th which is known as el
Dia de los Reyes. El Dia de los Reyes is celebrated to honor the wise men, also
known as the three kings, and is the when the three kings gave gifts to baby
Jesus. This day is the end of Mexico’s Catholic Christmas festivities and
celebrations. As this closes Christmas celebrations, el Dia de los Reyes
Mexican households will serve Rosca de Reyes, or cake. Rosca is an oval shaped
cake which is intended to symbolize a crown and inside the Rosca there is a
small piece of plastic doll which is supposed to represent baby Jesus. The
meaning behind the plastic doll hiding somewhere inside the cake tells us the
story of when baby Jesus was hiding from King Herod’s followers. The Rosca’s
are decorated with candied fruits which symbolize the jewels that you would
typically see on a crown. When it’s time to slice the cake up and share with
all your guest whoever gets the piece with the doll inside must then host a
part on February the 2nd. 

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