Christmas practices evolve from time to time.
For some nottoo much changes they just become practices that are passed on from generationto generation. These Christmas practices are then what create a part of aperson’s culture. In Mexico, despite the predominately Catholic influence,Christmas season shows the unity that exists within their general populationdisregarding nationality or other religions. In Mexico, the Christmas culture has formed in its way thatdates back to centuries ago. Many of these traditions and customs are stillprevalent today and consist of music, lights, parties and food. However, someof the most recognized traditions are the Villancicos, and Las Posadas, orNovenas. A good percentage of Mexico’s general population follow the Catholicreligion where Christmas is vital. Christmas celebrations in Mexico generallybegin from December 12th to January 6th.
December 12this a religious holiday for Catholics that celebrates and honors the Virgin ofGuadalupe, the mother of God. From December 16th to Christmas Evechildren perform the Posada processions. There are typically nine Posadas whichcelebrate and symbolize the story of Joseph and Mary when they were in searchfor somewhere to stay (Kastelein, 2001). Each night a different household hoststhe Posada, and on the final Posada which is on Christmas Eve families go to churchto listen to mass at nighttime. During these Posada festivities, there is onegame that is often played by children and it’s called the Piñata.
A piñata is adecorated ball filled with candy and other sweets inside and has seven spikessticking out that represent the seven deadly sins. The Piñata has now been usedfor other celebrations like birthdays but it is still very prevalent during theChristmas season with Mexican traditions. Moving on, Villancicos are Christmas carols with religiousconnotations that are used in various forms to celebrate the arrival of Jesus(Kastelein, 2001). “Villancicos originated in medieval Spain and were verypopular in the late 18th century”.
In the late 20thcentury the term villancicos was seemingly replaced with what we know of todayas Christmas carols. Thus, carols sung in Mexico during the Christmas seasonmore so than ever seem to advertise Catholicism. Mexican households that live within the rural areas decoratewith flowers and evergreens (Kastelein, 2001). Every night there are many “groupsof Santos peregrinos or holy pilgrims that assemble for the procession of LasPosadas” (Kastelein, 83).
These groups of holy pilgrims will carry candles andsing along the way reenacting the story of how Mary and Joseph were traveling fromhouse to house asking people for permission to stay in their homes. Inpreparation for Noche Buena, families will attend the Misa Del Gallo, orRooster Mass which is during the night of December 24th (Kastelein,2001). Another tradition during the Christmas season that is very popular inMexico are Pastorelas. What that is-is a form of amusement by influentialCatholic followers that reenact bible passages in a way to allow their audienceto 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 aCatholic Mexican household, the Nativity scene is significantly much moresymbolic in which it symbolizes Jesus birth. Christmas trees have now becomepopular in Mexico however the Nativity scene still remains as the most importantdecoration.
Another popular decoration in Mexico are NocheBuenas. In the UnitedStates, they are red poinsettia flowers.On a final note, traditionally in Mexico, El Nino Jesus orChrist Child receives gifts instead from the three kinds instead of Santa. Also,children in Mexico expect gifts on January 6th which is known as elDia de los Reyes. El Dia de los Reyes is celebrated to honor the wise men, alsoknown as the three kings, and is the when the three kings gave gifts to babyJesus. This day is the end of Mexico’s Catholic Christmas festivities andcelebrations.
As this closes Christmas celebrations, el Dia de los ReyesMexican households will serve Rosca de Reyes, or cake. Rosca is an oval shapedcake which is intended to symbolize a crown and inside the Rosca there is asmall piece of plastic doll which is supposed to represent baby Jesus. Themeaning behind the plastic doll hiding somewhere inside the cake tells us thestory of when baby Jesus was hiding from King Herod’s followers. The Rosca’sare decorated with candied fruits which symbolize the jewels that you wouldtypically see on a crown. When it’s time to slice the cake up and share withall your guest whoever gets the piece with the doll inside must then host apart on February the 2nd.