How to Celebrate a Mexican Christmas

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Christmas in Mexico is a time for families to reconnect with each other and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in their own unique way. The warm, tropical temperatures in most parts of the country mean that many activities happen outdoors.

Things You'll Need

  • Cribs
  • Nativity Scenes
  • Nativity Sets
  • Poinsettias
  • Candies
  • Sparklers
  • piñatas
  • Join in the celebration of "Las Posadas," when candlelight processions proceed through the town to re-create the wanderings of the Holy Family in search of lodging. Las Posadas take place starting December 16 and last until Christmas Eve.

  • Revel in the parties that traditionally follow Las Posadas. Food, drink and piñatas all add to the fun.

  • Attend the "pastorelas," which tell the story of the shepherd's quest for the Christ Child. These plays are staged in a variety of towns and cities in Mexico.

  • Plan to sing "haciendo rama," or Christmas carols, for the two weeks leading up to Christmas. The words of the songs should rhyme and be humorous to listeners.

  • Place a Nativity scene, or "el Nacimiento," in your home. These are frequently elaborate and may include a small Christmas tree.

  • Gather with your neighbors to decorate your street for the holidays.

  • Visit "puestos," which are stalls decked out for the holidays that sell foods (cheese, bananas, nuts and cookies) and flowers (orchids and poinsettias).

  • Attend the Mass known as "Misa de Gallo" on Christmas Eve if you're Catholic, then head home for the main Christmas meal, which includes regional dishes or even a turkey.

  • Open gifts after the meal, play the piñata game, and light sparklers, or "luces de Belen."

  • Relax on Christmas Day and serve a simple meal of leftovers from the evening before.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many people in Mexico choose not to exchange gifts.
  • Poinsettias have been an important part of the Mexican Christmas celebration since the 17th century, when a little boy named Pablo brought some green branches to the Nativity scene. According to legend, when he laid them beside the Christ Child, a red, star-shaped flower blossomed.
  • Some children in Mexico believe in Santa Claus, but others give their Christmas wishes to "El Niño Dios," the Christ Child.
  • "Feliz Navidad" means "Merry Christmas" in Mexico.
  • Mexico is a large country made up of many ethnic and cultural groups, so Christmas traditions can be quite diverse and cannot be generalized. The preceding steps represent a few examples of local traditions that may or may not be appropriate for your personal celebration of Christmas.

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