Mexican Traditions for Christmas
Christmas for Mexicans, in traditional homes and rural areas, is a religious holiday.
It is a celebration of the Nativity. This means the birthday of Our Lord Jesus. In order to prepare for the day of symbolic commemoration, we have the “Posadas“. These celebrations are a “Novena” or nine days before the 24 which is the “Noche Buena” or “Holy Night”.
These Posadas are an enactment of looking for lodging of St. Joseph and Virgin Mary, called The Pilgrims going to Bethlehem for the Census according to the Scriptures. In Spanish we called them: “Los Peregrinos, San José y la Virgen María”. Each family in a neighborhood, will schedule a night for the Posada to be held at their home, starting on the 16th of December and finishing on the 24th on Noche Buena.
Every home will have a Nativity scene. The hosts of the home are the innkeepers, and the neighborhood children and adults are Los Peregrinos, who have to request lodging through singing a simple chant. All carry small lit candles in their hands and four teenagers of about the same height are chosen to carry Los Peregrinos, which are two small statues of St. Joseph leading a donkey, which Virgen Mary is riding sidesaddle. The head of the procession will have a candle inside of a paper lamp shade that looks like an accordion but open at the top and it is called a “Farolito” or little lantern.
The Peregrinos will ask for lodging in three different houses but only the third one will allow them in. That will be the house that is supposed to have the Posada for that evening. Once the innkeepers let them in, the group of guests comes into the home and kneels around the Nativity scene to pray the Rosary. The Rosary is a traditional Catholic prayer, which consists of the following prayers: 50 Hail Mary, 5 Our Father , 5 Glory and the Litany, which is a series of Praises for the Virgin Mary, plus singing traditional songs like Holy Night in Spanish of course!
After all the prayer is done, then it comes the party for the children. There will be a Piñata, (pronounce Pignata, for it has an ñ instead of an n), filled with peanuts in the shell, oranges, tangerines, sugar canes, and seldom wrapped hard candy. Of course, there will be other types of chants the children will sing while the child in turn is trying to break the Piñata with a stick while he/she will be blindfolded.
Although the Piñata was originally from Italy, it has become a Mexican tradition for celebrations where there are children involved. The Piñata was made out of a clay pot and decorated with crepe paper in different colors. Today’s piñatas are made out of cardboard and paper mache techniques and decorated with crepe paper. This change was made to prevent the children from cutting their hands when going for the fruit and candy when the Piñata was broken and the clay piece would become a hazard. They have all kinds of designs besides the traditional star.
For the adults there is always “Ponche con Piquete“(sting), which is a hot beverage or “Punch” made out of seasonal fruits and cinnamon sticks, with a shot of alcoholic spririt. A good substitute here in Ohio is hot apple cider with fruits, without the “spirits”.
On Noche Buena, December 24, everybody goes to Misa de Noche Buena which is at midnight. After the Mass, everyone goes to their respective homes to have dinner with family and any friend who does not have a family is always welcome to be part of a family celebration, and most important of all to place the Baby Jesus in the manger in the Nativity scene.
The presents are not received on Christmas, for Christmas is a celebration of Life of Our Savior.
The New Year’s Eve, there is a Misa de Gallo, (Rooster’s Mass) that takes place at midnight also. Some families go to church earlies to give thanks for all the blessings received during the year.
Hotel Posada de Roger is located over the street Basilio Badillo in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico. It wishes you happy holidays in company of your loved ones and invites you to check out our nativity that will be located in our lobby through the month of December, till the day of Reyes.