Christmas In Mexico: Amazing Facts You Didn't Know

Ritwik Bhuyan
Jan 13, 2023 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Nov 22, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Niyati Parab
These farolitos are kept along windowsills
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.9 Min

Christmas is a festival celebrated worldwide by Christians and non-Christians, and Christmas Eve is the most awaited day of the whole year.

Christmas in Mexico is called Navidad and is not the same as in other parts of the world, as the weather is warm and mild here during December. The market stalls, or puestos, are always filled with people waiting to buy gifts, ornaments, and good things to eat for themselves and their children.

The people in Mexico decorate their houses with lilies and evergreens, and family members sit together to cut beautiful and delicate designs in brown paper bags to make lanterns. These lanterns are also called farolitos.

These farolitos are kept along windowsills, sidewalks, rooftops, and outdoor walls by placing a candle inside the lantern. These are placed outside to illuminate the spirit of Christmas. Mexican Christmas traditions are plenty, and we will read about them in the coming topics.

The Christmas celebrations in Mexico begin on December 16 and are called 'las posadas'. Christmas Eve is the ninth evening of las posadas and is called 'Buena Noche'.

On Buena Noche or Christmas Eve, the children lead a procession to the church. They place a figure of the Christ child in the nativity scenes or 'Nacimiento'.

Everyone in the town or city attends the midnight mass. After the late-night mass, the church bells ring, and fireworks start. Santa Claus gives gifts to many young children in Mexico.

The children carefully place the Nacimiento or the nativity scene in the best room of the house. The festive season is a season of happiness for the whole family, children and adults alike.

The nativity scenes include a stable, a little hillside, and beautifully painted clay figures of the Holy Family, the three kings, the shepherds, and the animals. The nativity scenes are completed by rocks, moss, and flowers that children bring to complete the Nacimiento.

In Mexico, the nine-day celebration of Christmas is incomplete without the reenactment of the Holy Family's nine-day journey to Bethlehem and how they searched for shelter in an inn or posada. Mexico also sees two children in costumes carrying small statues of Mary and Joseph and going from house to house with a procession of friends and neighbors.

This is done for the first eight evenings of las posadas.

The children sing a song asking for a home for the tired travelers.

When the two Mexican children find a house that will shelter them, they keep the statues in the nativity scenes of the house and say a prayer of thanks. Everyone then enjoys a good feast at the home of one of the families.

For all children in the holiday season, the first eight evenings or the piñata party is the most exciting part of Mexican Christmas.

Everyone knows what a piñata is, but for others who do not know, a piñata is a large figure made of clay or some other materials shaped like an animal or a star and is covered with some colorful papers.

The piñata is filled with small gifts and candy for the children and is hung from the roof.

The children are then blindfolded, given a stick, and spun.

They need to break the piñata and get all the hidden treasures inside. The piñata is raised and lowered, and each child can break into the piñata.

Christmas is always a day for church and family, and after church, it is always time for Christmas dinner with oxtail soup with beans and hot chili, roasted turkey, and a fruit and vegetable salad. According to folklore, the Reyes Magos, the Three Kings, pass through on their way to Bethlehem on January 5.

Many children are showered with gifts on the eve of the twelfth night, January 5. Children leave their shoes on the windowsill, and gifts are found inside them the next day.

On the next night, January 6, friends and family enjoy hot chocolate with cinnamon, vanilla, and a ring-shaped cake.

Whoever in the party gets the piece of cake with the little baby in it will throw a tamale party on Candlemas Day, February 2. Tamales are chicken or meat wrapped in corn dough.

It is covered in corn husks and then steamed. The Christmas season in Mexico ends with a religious service on Candlemas Day.

What is Mexican Christmas called?

Latin America has some brilliant ways to celebrate festivals, and the names given to them are very cool too.

The nine-night celebration from the 16th of December to the 24th is called Las Posadas.

Christmas Eve is called Noche Buena.

History of Christmas in Mexico

The history of Christmas in Mexico goes back to 1538. A local priest, Fray Pedro De Grante, introduced the concept of Christmas to the people.

Before that, only the settlers celebrated Christmas, but now everyone does. Mexico has its own customs and celebrates the festival for a month, from December 12 to January 6.

On December 28, Mexico celebrates Dia de Los Santos Inocentes (Day of the Innocent Saints). This is the Mexican equivalent of April Fools' Day. There is also a day called Dia de Los Angelitos (Day of Little Angels), celebrated on November 1.

In 2009, Mexico hosted the world's largest Christmas tree, 362 ft (110.3 m) in height.

How is Christmas in Mexico different from Christmas in America?

All over the world, children eagerly await Santa Claus. His gifts are common among all children of all ages.

Both countries consider December 25 as Christmas Day. However, the US celebrates Christmas Day and not the night before, and in Mexico, people celebrate on the evening of December 24.

Christmas Eve in the US is still considered a holy day, but people spend the day awaiting the next day of celebration. People in the US mostly eat desserts like cookies, cakes, and custards during the season, while Mexicans consume tamales and hot drinks. Turkey is common in both countries.

The song Noche de Paz is the same as the holiday favorite song Silent Night.

The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, is on December 12, and then on December 16, the Christmas celebrations start in Mexico.

Santa Claus gives gifts to many young children in Mexico

How do they celebrate Christmas in Mexico?

Christmas in different countries has different rules and rituals, and Mexican Christmas is no different.

Mexican Christmas is celebrated from December 12 to January 6. Children start their Posadas or the Posada processions on December 16, which runs until Christmas Eve.

Posada is an inn or lodging in Spanish. There are nine Posadas in total, and Mexican Christmas traditions celebrate the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary were finding a place to stay.

For the Posadas, decorations with moss, paper lanterns, and evergreens are done outside the house. Children are given candles and a board during the Posadas with painted clay figurines of Joseph and Mary riding a donkey.

They go around from house to house in procession. Children go to the houses and sing a song at each home about Mary and Joseph asking for a place to stay in the house.

To go with the festival, the house owners tell the children that there are no rooms in the house and to go away.

In time, the children are told there is a room available, and the children go in for a feast, games, and fireworks. The Posada party is held by different houses each day.

On Christmas Eve, the final day of the Posada, a manger and figures of shepherds are placed on the board, and when the house with a room is found, baby Jesus is put in the manger. After the baby Jesus has been placed there, everyone leaves for the midnight mass at the Church.

The start of Christmas is celebrated with fireworks outside the church and marks the holiday season. One of the most popular games during the festive period is a piñata.

The last Posada is on Christmas Eve. A hot drink, mostly hot chocolate or horchata, is common during the Posadas.

Similar to the Posada, another story is known as the Pastorelas (The Shepherds). Shepherds go to find baby Jesus in this story. The story is quite funny. The devil tries to prevent the herders from finding baby Jesus by tempting them. The shepherds are able to find baby Jesus with the help of Archangel Michael, who defeats the devil.

Nacimiento is very popular in Mexico and is bigger with huge replicas. Sometimes even the whole room of a house is used.

The big figures are often passed down in families consisting of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the Shepherds, and the Three Kings. Apart from the Three Kings and the others, there can also be other figures of common people in the Nacimiento. You can find the figures easily in Mexico City.

Most Mexican towns near Mexico city have a church dedicated to Virgin Mary, and parents dress their children in traditional clothes. They take them for the blessings in the church on Christmas day.

Christmas trees are common as decorating a Christmas tree has now been used extensively in Mexico City. Town centers have big Christmas trees, and people even bring a Christmas tree into their houses for the Christmas Day celebration.

Popular Christmas food in Mexico includes roast turkey and green vegetable salad. However, suppose you want to enjoy the main Christmas meal.

In that case, it will consist of pozole (which is a thick soup with chicken, pork, or hominy with greens on top), roast pork, roast turkey, bacalao (which is a salt cod), tamales, romeritos (a green vegetable cooked in a mole sauce with shrimps and potatoes), and always salad (seasonal fruits and vegetables).

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Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

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Fact-checked by Niyati Parab

Bachelor of Commerce

Niyati Parab picture

Niyati ParabBachelor of Commerce

With a background in digital marketing, Niyati brings her expertise to ensure accuracy and authenticity in every piece of content. She has previously written articles for MuseumFacts, a history web magazine, while also handling its digital marketing. In addition to her marketing skills, Niyati is fluent in six languages and has a Commerce degree from Savitribai Phule Pune University. She has also been recognized for her public speaking abilities, holding the position of Vice President of Education at the Toastmasters Club of Pune, where she won several awards and represented the club in writing and speech contests at the area level.

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