To say that Mexico is a country rich with tradition is clichéd nearly as much as some of the traditions themselves. Years ago, upon visiting a Mexican home during the Christmas holidays, we were shown a room that had been completely devoted to the nacimiento, known to us as the nativity. Mind you, this was not a large home and the use of one single room was proof of the sacrifice being made. The Christmas tree stood in a corner and spread over the floor, which was strewn with hay, were clay sheep, cows, a donkey, shepherds, surrounding a stooped Joseph and a sleepy Mary, peering into an empty, roughhewn cradle. Missing was the baby Jesus, which would be placed there on Christmas Eve. To navigate in this room, one had to be very careful and step gingerly. Rare is the home in Mexico that does not display a treasured nacimiento and in some cases, several dioramas might be exhibited around the home. Traditionally, the Wise Men won’t even be added until the end of the celebrations, which occur on January 6, Three Kings Day; Epiphany.
In Puerto Vallarta, Christmas begins on December 1 and is observed until January 6. The Days of Our Lady of Guadalupe are honored for the first twelve days with daily parades that lead to the cathedral. The 12th is a day of special foods, fireworks, massive people in the streets and fiestas. The peregrinations that lead to the church go all through the night from the evening before and there is no end to the festivities. From the 16th until the 24th, the Posadas take place. In Puerto Vallarta, this will include businesses giving parties for their staff and in many cases inviting whole families. Traditionally this is a time for neighbors to get together; honoring the Holy Family is their search for an inn where the Christ child will be born. Piñatas are common at these parties and normally the shape of a seven-pointed star, representing the 7 Deadly Sins, to be bashed and mutilated, only to produce sweets and treats for the children. Christmas Eve, Noche Buena, the final posada, is a huge event, with dinner, mass at the church, more fireworks and gift giving.
On December 28, Mexicans observes their version of April Fool’s Day. It’s a day of silliness and pranks, symbolizing King Herod’s order to kill all the babies in his vengeance of the allegedly Savior child. Day of the Innocent Saints.
After New Year’s Eve, the parties continue until the Three Kings arrive, late and laden with more gifts, often a lot of candy and perhaps another piñata. Rosca de Reyes, a cake with a hidden plastic baby, is eaten on this day and whoever crunches into those little arms and legs will be
responsible for another party on February 2, Candelaria, for hosting the final party of the season. Then it’s time to get ready for Easter.
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Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article!
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