If you live in Mexico, it’s important for you to know what holidays in Mexico are like. Mostly because for about 4 months between November and February, you’ll find that the partying almost doesn’t end.
A lot of the same traditions in the U.S. are also carried out in Mexico. Like gathering for Christmas and gift exchanges. But this post isn’t about what’s similar because that would be boring. And you didn’t come to read something boring did you?
My post today is all about Holidays in Mexico, and how they can be traditional, weird, fun, and very tasty.
Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
Starting November 1st through November 2nd each year we honor the loved ones in our lives that have passed.
And we do this in a beautiful way that somehow doesn’t evoke tears or sadness. The traditional belief is that our loved ones can come back at this time to the land of the living. And to bring them joy and happiness as they come back to the land of the living, we bring them offerings or “ofrendas”.
This is usually their favorite foods, their favorite drinks, a favorite clothing item, and even their favorite songs.
If they grave isn’t nearby, we put up a pedestal at home and set up their “ofrendas” there. Personally, I think it’s a beautiful way to honor our loved ones. And in some way, shape, or form, bring the grieving process some joy.
Navidad (Christmas) is a holiday in Mexico that is taken very seriously. It’s the equivalent of Thanksgiving in the U.S.
People travel from all over the place to reunite with their families. There are usually large gatherings with not only families but also neighbors and friends. You’d be lucky to get any official paperwork processes in the week leading up to Christmas or the week afterward. This is one of the favorite holidays for many Mexican households, and some of the traditions are a bit odd if you aren’t used to spending Christmas in Mexico.
Christmas Eve (Nochebuena)- Dec 24
The 24th of December is when Mexicans break bread with their families. The 24th is the actual birth of Christ. And at midnight is when the bible states he was brought into the world. Hence why we celebrate the 24th.
In my house growing up, we didn’t do much on the 25th of December. The actual day of Christ (the 25th) most Mexican households have a laid back day, open gifts from Santa Claus, and eat leftovers from the night before.
The 24th is when families gather, have dinner, and open presents at midnight. Yes, you read that right, midnight. Kids stay up late, and adults party into the wee hours of the night, or the next day.
I can’t tell you what every Mexican household has for dinner on the 24th because I have a small world view of this, but I can almost certainly tell you that it’s Romeritos (Mexican greens), Tamales, Turkey, Smoked Ham, Bacalao (cod with tomato), and/or Pork Loin. Not many vegetables there huh?
I love Christmas dinner! Every typical dish is delicious, and are usually accompanies with drinks like Ponche, Wine, and Spirits.
We Ask For Shelter Through Song (Pedir Posada)
You might hear people singing a song from house to house during Christmas in Mexico. Usually, followed by more partying and a big pinata full of candy.
It’s almost like caroling in the U.S., but the main difference is you’re asking for a place to stay in your song. You don’t actually stay there; it’s just a re-enactment of Jesus and Mary traveling through the desert asking for a place to stay. It symbolizes the bible and is a way to remind us what Christmas is really all about.
If you’re not from Mexico, it might be weird for you to hear people come to your door asking for a place to stay through song, but it’s a normal tradition in Mexico. And a very fun way for neighbors to socialize.
Part of the song allows one of the neighbors to let you in, and “seek shelter”. This is then followed by partying and children hitting a pinata full of candy, peanuts, and oranges.
Santa Isn’t The Only One Kids Have To Please..
I know the drill. December 1st hits and every parent in the world starts to remind their kids that Santa Claus keeps a list of kids who are naughty and those that are nice. It’s the perfect parenting tool to help you keep those kids in line who are otherwise rambunctious.
Well in Mexico, kids have to be good for another 2 weeks! In fact, a lot of the gifts that kids receive during the holidays are given during Kings Day. So go ahead and celebrate a little if you live in Mexico with kids because your parenting wand just got extended for a few more weeks.
That’s because, on January 6th in Mexico, the Three Wise Kings (Reyes Magos) also bring gifts to the children of the house. And in order for you to ask for your surprise, you have to leave a shoe out, under the Christmas tree.
In the U.S. this day is known as Epiphany.
On Kings Day We Also Eat A Fruitcake With A Baby Jesus Inside.
And the person who gets the slice with the Baby Jesus, agrees to throw a party on El Dia De La Candelaria in February.
Mexicans love to gather and socialize. So on January 6th (El Dia De Reyes) we get together and eat La Rosca.
This kind of fruitcake is representative of a crown and it is adorned with dried fruits and nuts. The bakers who make this cake, stuff a tiny Baby Jesus in it, so that when it bakes it is well hidden inside.
The Rosca is cut into slices at a party and whoever gets the Baby Jesus has to throw a party for their neighbors and friends.
Any reason to party in Mexico right?
El Nino Dios (Baby Jesus)- La Candelaria
You’ve seen nativity scenes in the U.S., but Mexicans take it to another level. This is one of the quirkiest holidays in Mexico in my opinion. In Mexico, Baby Jesus (El Nino Jesus) is a full-sized baby with the most decorated robe that some people can afford. I’m talking lace, sequins, a crown, and silk.
La Calendaria, celebrated on February 2nd in Mexico, is known as “Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin”. That’s a mouthful I know. You’d be better served if I just explained that it’s a mass with candles.
Traditionally, babies are taken to church to be blessed and purified within 40 days of being born. And a lot of Mexican households bring the fake Baby Jesus to be blessed in the same tradition since he was just born on the 25th.
And then you guessed it…. There’s a party afterward. The person who got the tiny baby jesus in the “rosca” is supposed to host the party for friends, neighbors, and family. Usual dishes include Tamales, Champurrado (a sweet corn drink) and Ponche (a sweet wine served warm).
You Can’t Start Your Diet on January 1st.
There you have it, a 3 month long festivity in Mexico where food is the main attraction and drinks are plenty.
It’s fair to say that you probably shouldn’t start your diet on January 1st because you really don’t want to set yourself up that way. The food and traditions in Mexico are abundant.
So make sure you make friends with a few Mexican families because taking part in these traditions is all about building community and having fun. Plus, you should want to integrate into Mexican culture anyway if you live in Mexico.
Other Important Holidays
Now, it may seem like every weekend is an important holiday wherever you are because tere are usually fireworks and live music on any random weekday celebrating a saint. But these are usually different by municipality and region.
On a national level, these are a few other important holidays. You can expect banks to close, government office employees to go on vacation, restaurants to be packed, and special events happening around these dates.
- New Years Eve – Dec 31st
- New Years Day- January 1st
- Dia de La Constitucion/ Constitution Day First -February 5th
- Dia de Benito Juarez/ Benito Juarez Day – March 20th
- Dia de Trabajo- Labor Day – May 1st
- El Grito/ The Cry of Independence – September 15th at Midnight
- Dia de La Independencia/ Independence Day- September 16th
- Dia de La Revolucion/ Revolution Day – November 20th
Now, I’d like to hear from YOU. What is your favorite local or national holiday in Mexico?