It is almost that time of year again- Christmas in Mexico!Christmas is a holiday that has the power to inspire art, literature and folk customs, to express itself in various manners within many diverse cultures. In short, Christmas in Mexico is a celebration of the people by the people for the people.
In Mexico, Christmas is a true folk celebration all about family. The customs are a vibrant mix of old and new, including customs borrowed from Europe and some developed in Mexico. In recent years, more and more are adopted from the US and Canada as well.
One prominent aspect of the Mexican Christmas season in the widespread use of the “nacimiento”- the crèche or nativity scene. It is normally much more elaborate than those used in the rest of North America. Its normally quite large ceramic figurines can sometimes include such non traditional items as “nopal” (cactus), hermits and ducks, along with the traditional Baby Jesus, Mary & Joseph, wise men, etc.
In northern Mexico, the traditional time for gift giving is on the nights of December 24th & 25th. But here in southern Mexico, the majority of gift exchanges take place January 6th, Epiphany, or as it is more commonly known here, Day of the Magi Kings, commemorating the presentation of the gifts by the wise men to Baby Jesus.
A “piñata”, suspended in mid-air, being whacked with a stick until it breaks sending candies to the ground is perhaps the most famous Mexican Christmas custom.
Most people think of a donkey as an image for these “piñatas”, but these days they come in all shapes and forms, like characters in the latest children’s movies like Toy Story, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar.
The traditional “piñata” used at Christmas time however is a ball with spikes. This comes from the Spanish colonial times where the ball represented Satan, with the 7 spikes representing the 7 deadly sins and was used by the friars as a teaching device. Thus, breaking the piñata represented defeating Satan.
Another Mexican Christmas custom is the “posada”, which superficially bears some resemblance to the Christmas caroling custom practiced in English-speaking countries. The difference here is that the singing in the posada is a ritualized musical drama. The people outside sing the part of Mary & Joseph, whereas the people in the house sing the part of the innkeeper, and finally those outside are invited inside for the party.
In more recent years, Gringo customs such as Santa Clause and Christmas trees have been adopted in Mexico as well. In fact, Santa Clause is well known now as in many other countries. Small children are eagerly awaiting his arrival, come Christmas morning.
Here is to wishing our many clients, friends and family a very safe and joyous Holiday Season no matter where you may be from all of us at Trans Caribbean Trust!
We look forward to seeing you on the beach soon!