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Holidays In Mexico- What Is It Like?

If you live in Mexico, it’s important for you to know what holidays in Mexico are like. Mostly because for about 3 months between December 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.

Wondering if you can travel to Mexico from the U.S. right now?

Navidad (Christmas)

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 decorations in mexico are colorful and vibrant

Christmas Eve (Nochebuena)

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?

bacalao is a spanish dish traditionally served during christmas in mexico

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.

la rosca de reyes is a round donut-like cake with fruits and nuts.

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.

a tiny baby jesus is hidden in the cake.

Any reason to party in Mexico right?

El Nino Dios (Baby Jesus)

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 traditions anyway if you live in Mexico.

What is your favorite quirky tradition about Holidays in Mexico?

Let me know in the comments 🙂

Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

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