during the holidays is a great way to get to know a country on a cultural
level. In Mexico, Christmas is one of the biggest celebrations in the country
and it does not disappoint. Here are some things to look forward to when making
your way around Mexico in December and January.
It all starts
on December 3 with a nine-day celebration of Mexico's patron saint, the Virgin
de Guadalupe (Virgin Mary). What begins with daily prayers and religious acts
on the eve of December 11th, erupts into a massive party with
fireworks and ends with a feast on December 12th. During this time
many people make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady Guadalupe in northern
Mexico City to show their devotion.
By December 14,
many houses and public spaces set their nativity scenes. The displays lead to
Las Posadas, or the reenactment of two children dressed as Mary and Joseph
making their way from door to door asking if there is room. This ends in
festivities with pinatas, tamales (a traditional Mexican dish), and buñuelos (a
traditional Mexican fried dough ball/disk covered in sweets).
Eve, people make their way along thousands of luminarias (paper bags filled
with sand and candles) to their nearest church for their late night mass, or La
Misa Del Gallo (The Mass of the Rooster). Celebrations ensue with a midnight
feast with food, drinks, sparklers, and fun. Christmas Day is a lot more toned
down as people recover from the previous night’s festivities.
The big day for
presents isn’t Christmas Eve with Santa Claus but Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos
(Three Kings Day) on January 6. Celebrated during the time that the Three Wise
Men reached Bethlehem with gifts, this is when kids normally get their boon of
presents, brought personally by the three kings. It isn’t to say that Santa
Claus is not celebrated (some families celebrate both), however the Three Kings
Day is more widely celebrated throughout the country.
The window of
opportunity to catch a glimpse of some of the elaborate Christmas celebrations
is wide. Experiencing a Mexican Christmas will not only make you more
intimately familiar with the cultural celebrations of the country, but will
also provide you a unique and memorable holiday season.