Christmas in Cozumel Mexico
It is time again to present you with Mexican traditions at Christmas time. Christmas is still Christmas in Mexico. It is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the important things in life, family and friends. Although some influences of Santa have arrived due to tourism and residents from the other countries, the wonderful old fashion traditions still reign. We will start with the traditions during the Holiday Season, and then list all the good food that is traditionally served. You can go on-line and get the recipes or get more information on the celebrations.
When you hear a group of people singing as they walk down your street, they are participating in the Posada. The Posadas take place from the 16th to the 24th. It is a procession that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem. These processions lead to a different house every night for the culmination of the posada – a fiesta, which will usually include one or more piñatas. In the Caribbean Islands of Trinidad, St. Lucia’s, etc. They do a version of the Posada called Parange. (Not certain of the spelling). Each home visited is blessed by friends and family.
Christmas Eve is called Nochebuena in Spanish. This is the night of the last posada. Many people attend midnight mass and then have a dinner together with their families. Christmas Day is generally a quiet day. Gifts are not traditionally exchanged on Christmas, but this is changing, and Santa Claus is becoming increasingly more prominent in Mexican Christmas celebrations. In Cozumel, Ebenezer Church is having a Christmas Eve service in English at 6 p.m. The Catholic Churches have Christmas Eve and Christmas day Masses.
Although many Mexican families have Christmas trees, nativity scenes are a more common in homes, yards, and public places. The Nacimiento is usually set up on December 16th, the baby Jesus is added at night on December 24th and the three kings are added on January 5th.
Pastorelas are theatrical presentations of the shepherds (los pastores) on their way to see baby Jesus. These originated during Mexico’s colonial period and are now light-hearted comedic presentations. In the play the shepherds encounter various obstacles on their journey, with devils and angels making appearances.
Christmas carols are called villancicos in Spanish (pronounced vee-yan-see-kose). Some of these may be familiar translations of songs in English, such as Noche de Paz, the Spanish version of Silent Night, and some are completely different, such as Las Campanas de Belen (Bethlehem’s Bells) and Los Peces en el Río (the Fishes in the River).
The Celebration Continues:
After Christmas comes Año Nuevo (New Years. Most Mexicans celebrate New Year’s Eve by having a late-night dinner with their families. Those who want to party generally go out afterwards. The big day for children is January 6th, Día de Reyes (Kings Day). This is when children traditionally receive gifts, brought by the three wise men. Instead of cookies for Santa, children leave cookies and milk for the three Kings and hay, carrots, or other vegetable for the Camel, the elephant and the Horse they ride. Many children now receive gifts both on Christmas and on King’s Day.
On this day it is also customary to share a Rosca de Reyes among friends and family. This is sweet bread in the shape of a wreath with a miniature baby Jesus figure inside. Whoever finds the baby Jesus (often there are several in each Rosca) is supposed to host the party on February 2nd, traditionally serving tamales.
Candlemas, or Día de la Candelaria, on February 2nd, marks the end of the Christmas season. On this day people dress up their Niño Dios and take them to the church to be blessed, and everyone enjoys tamales provided by the person who got the baby Jesus in the Rosca on King’s Day the Mexican Holiday!
Happy Holidays from my Family to Yours!