I was having a conversation with a newspaper editor about Mexican traditions and about how our family integrates them living in another culture and married to a man of a different culture. He asked me to write an article about it and when I sent him my first rough draft his response I was surprised. He said, “In my observation, you really don’t share much about your Mexican culture.” It was merely an observation but for me it turned into a challenge.
I do realize that I tend to mix some of our traditions so they aren’t always fully authentic Mexican but maybe I did need to focus on this a little bit more. I spent many days thinking through what I did as a child with my parents and I realized so many of our Mexican traditions were tied around food.
So I will start by sharing the food our family enjoyed in plentiful at Christmas time:
A lot of this type of food is eaten year round but it’s also a typical Christmas food. In the mountainous region where my mom is from this is what they eat:
Tamales – As a child, I looked forward to our annual end of the year tamales. It’s a corn meal dough wrapped in a corn husk and stuffed with meat and sauce.
Pozole – This hearty soup is wonderful to enjoy after you’re cold winter Posada walk through the village. This soup is typically made from pork with a red chiles sauce, cabbage, radish, hominy…
Atole – Is a popular hot beverage enjoyed all year long.
Ponche – Is a hot drink with spices and fruit that have been mulled for hours to bring out the flavors in the fruit used from that region: tecojoets, tamarindo, guava and sweetened with pilloncillo (brown sugar, molasses flavored, cone shaped sweetener).
Rosca de Reyes – This is a bread that is typically enjoyed around “Dias de los Reyes” (Three Kings Day) on January 6th. You can find a delicious recipe over at Mexico in My Kitchen (Image above via Mexico in My Kitchen).
Romeritos – I remember my mom talking about these but because it was mixed in with our meal, I don’t quite remember the flavor. It resembles rosemary and it’s usually one of the main ingredients for a Christmas sauce or mole.
Buñuelos – An amazing sweet fritter that is fried and eaten with pilloncillo syrup and enjoyed with atole.
Traditional Christmas Activities:
Today we are going to travel to Mexico. As many of you know, Latinos know how to throw a fiesta! My first Christmas in Mexico was when I was in high school, I was able to experience family, great food and new Christmas traditions.
One of the most memorable and delightful activities while visiting my family in Mexico was the Posadas tradition. My family in Mexico lives on a hill in a small village with a Catholic church in the middle of the neighborhood which was perfect for the re-enactment of the Christmas story in this neighborhood because you could peek out your window and see the mass of lighted candles lighting the way in the village.
Traditionally, a party is held each night in a neighborhood home. At my families neighborhood they did all 9 houses in one day on the 24th. I am sure this made it easier on busy families. The guests gather outside on the street with children dressed as shepherds, angels and Mary and Joseph. An angel leads the procession, followed by Mary and Joseph or by guests carrying their images. The adults follow, carrying lighted candles and sing Christmas carols and other religious Christmas songs that talk about Mary the mother of Jesus. I clearly remember walking up and down the street singing Christmas songs with complete strangers but feeling the joy and harmony that came from gathering with our neighbors and family.
They stop at each home and the first 8 homes don’t open their doors and they sing the message–there’s no room in the inn. At the 9th house the “pilgrims” sing a song asking for shelter, and the hosts sing a reply, finally opening the doors to the guests and offering hot ponche, buñuelos, steaming hot tamales and a huge piñata. These are some of my favorite holidays foods that I never learned how to make but my mom can. The last posada, held on December 24, usually its followed by a midnight mass.
After experiencing this wonderful Mexican tradition, I had my heart set on holding a Posada in the U.S. A few years later we did but with a few changes that focused more on Christ the Savior being born.
For those of you having a hard time picturing this it’s pretty much a Christmas pageant held out on the street with candles and food. This video should help envision this tradition: a great two minute childrens video to explain a little bit of the history behind Las Posadas, it’s animated with cute little characters.
Christmas crafts, books and activities:
The book The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola is a great children’s book to open the eyes of your children to Mexican Christmas Traditions this holiday season.
Three Kings Day Craft:
This is really cute and one that is easy to make with your little ones. You can get some wonderful ideas for the whole manger scene here at Katherine Marie blog. (image via Katherine Marie)
Christmas Around the World Activities: You can find some fabulous ideas, activities and a passport for your kids at 123 Homeschool.
I’m excited to be participating in the Christmas In Different Lands Blog Hop hosted by the Multicultural Blog stop by to virtually travel the world this Christmas!
I had so much fun reminiscing these fond memories from my childhood. Hope you enjoyed learning about my beloved country and our delightful and unique traditions.