In Mexico, Christmas is a grand affair and it is celebrated with much splendor and magnificence. The festive spirit strikes the country right from the beginning of December and continues throughout the year. It is the time when Mexicans drown themselves in commemorative spirit and make merry. Though the overall celebration is same as that held in the Western countries, there are religious practices that are traditional to Mexico. The tradition of Piñatas, Pastorelas and Posadas announces the arrival of Feliz Navidad or Christmas in the country. Let us explore these traditions in detail.
Christmas Celebrations in Mexico
For Mexicans, the festivity starts from December 16th itself. Posadas is a term given to the nine-day festival, which starts from December 16 and ends on Christmas Eve. According to the scriptures, St. Joseph and Virgin Mary were going to Bethlehem for the Census. On the way, they looked for some lodging. Las Posadas is an enactment of this. Each family schedules a night for the Las Posadas to be held at their home. Neighborhood children and adults have to request for lodging from the innkeepers i.e. host of their neighborhood house.
Four teenagers are appointed to carry two small statues of St. Joseph leading a donkey, while Virgin Mary is riding sidesaddle. The people are supposed to ask for lodging in different houses, before reaching the one that is supposed to have the Las Posada for that evening. Once they are let inside, the men kneel around the Nativity and pray to Rosary and sing traditional songs. Once the sanctimonious ceremonies are done, it is time for partying and rejoicing. All the Latin American countries celebrate this holiday to this day,
Talking about celebration, food cannot be far behind. There is a traditional Piñata in each of the Mexican houses, which is filled with unshelled peanuts, oranges, tangerines, sugarcanes, and seldom wrapped hard candy. A customary practice is that children are blindfolded while they break the Piñata with a stick. They also chant a mantra at the time of breaking. Though Piñata was originally an Italian custom, it became a Mexican tradition for celebration. It is actually a clay pot, decorated with crepe paper in different colors. Today's Piñatas are made of cardboard and Paper Mache, mainly to prevent children from cutting their hands, when going for the fruit and candy.
The Las Posadas ends on Christmas Eve, which is known as Noche Buena in Mexican. The day starts with the last Las Posadas and ends with a lavish, sumptuous dinner. On this day, everybody goes to the church at midnight, to attend the midnight mass or Misa de Noche Buena. Thereafter, Mexicans head straight to their respective homes, to have dinner with their family. A traditional dinner, serving culinary delights, is gorged upon, after which people head to their room to unwind. On Christmas Day, children are generally the first to wake up, as they are eager to find the gifts Santa Claus would have dropped in for them!!