What a wonderful season December is in Mexico: Piñatas, Pastorelas, Posadas....
We have just finished the Día de Muertos festivities, and now the market where I usually shop, and where the famous painter Frida Kahlo also used to get her flowers and food, is completely transformed. A few days ago it was filled with cempasuchitl flowers, sugar skulls, papel picado and pan de muerto or Day of the Dead bread, and today it is getting ready for the Christmas season.
Stores and street vendors are also selling all kinds of beautiful ornaments that merrily announce the proximity of one of the happiest periods of the year
Very shortly after the fiesta for Our Lady of Guadalupe ends, the preparation for the Christmas season begins. The first of nine posadas is held on December 16. These are fiestas, which represent Joseph and Mary's arduous pilgrimage on their way to Bethlehem, and there are nine posadas, from the 16 to the 24 of December, because they symbolize Mary's nine months of pregnancy.
I must tell you that since we really enjoy fiestas and we like to start the celebrations as soon as possible, we have what we call pre-posadas, which are as you may imagine, posadas that are held before December 16!
The whole community is organized for the posadas . Beforehand they decide which and how many houses will not offer a place where Mary and Joseph can stay, and where they will finally find shelter, and break the piñata. The community also decides how many posadas they will have. Some only hold one or two of them during the season.
Following them are all the neighbors, carrying candles and singing traditional songs to ask for posada, a place where they can stay. At the end of the trip through the streets of the neighborhood they reach their final destination. Doors open and the big party begins!
The piñata is strung up and everyone gets ready to break it! The children are blindfolded so it is harder to break! One by one the children try to break it, while they are hitting it, the rest of us sing:
Afterwards we all enjoy the delicious food prepared: tamales, buñuelos - sweet fritters- churros and chocolate caliente -hot chocolate.
During the Christmas season there are Pastorelas, which are theatrical representations of the shepherds on their way to honor baby Jesus. They must follow the star in the East to get there, but there will be many obstacles, set by the devils, for them to overcome. The pastorelas are comedies of course, and display a traditional sense of humor. Sometimes the characters even get to deliver political jokes, which the audience obviously enjoys!
These scenes are set up on December 16, but the figure of the Baby Jesus is not put into the manger until December 24, and the Three Kings are added on January 5.
Christmas Eve, or Noche Buena as it is called in Mexico, is celebrated on December 24. This is an essentially family day, which begins with the last posada and ends with a delicious, sumptuous dinner. At midnight there are masses that are called Misa de Gallo. After dinner the adults exchange presents.
On December 25, children wake up early, to find under the tree the gifts they asked Santa Claus for.
This is a relatively new, (some 50 years old ) addition to our Christmas season. Before, gifts were only exchanged on January 6, Dia de los Reyes Magos.
Los Reyes Magos
All Mexican children anxiously wait January 5, because this is when the Three Kings, Los Reyes Magos, arrive with gifts for them!
On the morning of January 6, all their dreams come true!
Each person cuts a slice of the rosca, and whoever gets the baby figurine has to invite everyone present to a new party on February 2, Candelaria day.
On February second, Candelaria day, the many Baby Jesus figurines are taken from the nativity scene to the church to be blessed. Practically all the markets will restore, paint and dress these dolls for the occasion.
The nativity scene is put away on this date until the next year when the new Christmas season begins.
This marvelous season, filled with dreams and joy, ends on this afternoon in a family setting!
Theme Related DVDs:
Inside Mexico All rights reserved. All articles, images,
pictures and design contained in this website are the
property of Inside Mexico and protected by copyright
law. NO part of this site can be used without previous
authorization. We will be glad to authorize, upon
request, educational non-profit projects and require
that credit be given to Inside Mexico and a
link back to our site.