Time of peace, time of love, time to forgive, time to give, is what Christmas represents for some and for others it is a time of great fun, because in a destination like Mexico, celebrating Christmas can be a real odyssey and that’s what we will talk about in this post: Christmas in Mexico.
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Christmas in Mexico
We know that Christmas is a very beautiful date around the world, because we can find the streets decorated with fantastic lights that invite us to take pictures for the memory and our social networks.
But not only the streets are illuminated, we also find the decorations of the squares, houses, gardens and public spaces with Christmas decorations and of course with the creativity of the people.
Of course, all of the above refers to the “traditional Christmas activities” or rather part of the activities that take place during the days of the celebration. Although in many parts of the world Christmas begins on December 24, which refers to the birth of the baby Jesus, in other places it begins in the first minutes of December.
But don’t worry, because we will see all this here and learn how Christmas is celebrated in Mexico.
Origin of Christmas in Mexico
As we well know, many years ago Mexico did not have the celebration of Christmas, but it did have some other types of celebrations that took place on these dates. We can mention the winter solstice that lasted approximately 5 days and was part of the customs of the Aztecs, Mayas, Toltecs, etc, etc.
In fact Mexico has more than 60 indigenous peoples, who still preserve their traditions and instead of celebrating Christmas as we know it today, they celebrate a celebration totally different from ours.
After that we know that Christmas in Mexico began after the Spanish conquest, because it is necessary to remember that it is a Christian celebration.
After the discovery of the American continent and due to an accident in one of Christopher Columbus’ caravels, several Spaniards were “forced” to stay in what was then known as “New Spain”, building a fort to protect the treasure they were carrying.
This construction was completed on December 25th and it was in this historic way that Christmas was celebrated in Mexico, however the first recorded Christmas in Mexico was in the year 1526.
When Christmas begins in Mexico
If by Christmas we refer to the “Birth of Jesus”, its celebration date is December 25th of each year and it is customary to prepare everything from December 24th, for the so called Christmas dinner.
December 25th is the day that starts Christmas in Mexico and in several countries around the world, having a duration of 12 days, that is to say from December 25th to January 6th, taking these 12 days as the journey of the Three Kings to the manger where Jesus of Nazareth is huddled.
How Christmas is celebrated in Mexico
As we have already seen, Christmas in Mexico is celebrated from December 25 to January 6, however there is a set of “celebrations” that take place before these dates, so many confuse the beginning of Christmas with the first of December.
For that reason many people confuse the beginning of Christmas with the first of December, because from that date on, several activities begin, which we will describe below.
From December 1st to December 12th, the novenas begin, a custom that has been taking place for years throughout the country and its purpose is to honor the “Patroness of Mexico”, that is, the Virgin of Guadalupe.
This celebration really has nothing to do with Christmas, however due to the proximity of the date, it is taken as part of it.
It should be noted that during these 12 days, thousands of parishioners make a long journey from their city to the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The stories tell that this is where the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego and asked to build her temple there.
While some travel long distances, others carry out the “novenarios” in their homes.
The posadas begin on December 16 and lasts 7 days, that is to say, it ends on December 23 and this custom refers to the journey of Mary and Joseph requesting “posada” to wait for the birth of Jesus.
This Mexican Christmas custom and tradition “simulates” the journey, that is why it is common to see many people together going around the houses and asking for an inn, until they arrive at the host’s house. This tour is accompanied by various religious and Christmas songs. It is done particularly at night, so the participants carry candles to “light up” during the journey.
Once at the host’s house, a “novenario” is held and finally a small party is held with food and piñatas.
While some perform the posadas, others are given the task of attending pastorales. These are plays that represent the shepherds’ journey to Bethlehem and the various obstacles that the “devil” places throughout their journey.
The postorela is particularly celebrated in almost all theaters in Mexico, as it is part of the Christmas celebration and of course a way to entertain a weekend.
Nativity scenes are another of the Christmas customs and traditions in Mexico and consist of placing a manger, which represents the birth of Jesus. Generally the nativity scenes are placed on December 16, but only Joseph, Mary, some shepherds, sheep and the wise men, of course we are talking about figures of them.
After that, on December 24 or to be honest the first hour of December 25, the figure of the so-called “Baby Jesus” is added in the manger, which represents Jesus as a baby.
Although there is no exact date, most people remove their nativity scene on January 2 and others between January 6 and 10, the rare ones remove it until February.
In almost all regions of Mexico, during the holiday season there are traditional Christmas fairs of all kinds, from fairs of mechanical games, handicrafts and clothing. The task of these fairs is to brighten up the vacations that most people have available during Christmas.
While some people celebrate the birth of Jesus with their families, others prefer to attend all the events organized by the government, night clubs, bars and in particular all the tourist and entertainment areas of each region.
These events are accompanied by music, drinks, fireworks, parades, contests, food, and a variety of different activities.
New Year’s Eve
Something that history has taught us is that Jesus was born in March, however his birth was moved to December to coincide with Christmas and relatively speaking, this date also coincides with the New Year.
That is why part of Christmas in Mexico and in other parts of the world is shared with the celebration of the New Year and of course we will talk about it in another post.
Three Kings Day
As the last celebration of Christmas in Mexico, we have Three Kings Day and the traditional “rosca de reyes”. According to Christian history: After Jesus was born three kings (Melchior, Gaspar and Baltazar) guided by the star of Bethlehem made a journey to find his birth.
In which they brought gold, frankincense and myrrh as a present to the king of kings. Particularly this journey ended on January 6 and is where the last celebration of Christmas, Three Kings Day, takes place.
It should be noted that this day is celebrated with the traditional “rosca de reyes” and a good hot chocolate.
As we can see, Christmas in Mexico is celebrated a little differently than in other countries, mainly in the old continent, because this Christian tradition lived a cultural fusion, which gives the celebration that we know today. However… Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.