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jennifer rose

Nov 30, 2002, 1:28 PM

Views: 11904

Re: [Roses5410] Christmas

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Yes, we have Christmas in Mexico. Do we ever! Sometimes I think it must’ve been invented here.

Although Costco unveiled its displays of Christmas merchandise back in August, and fresh Christmas trees went on a sale a few weeks ago, Christmas in Mexico officially begins with Día de Virgen Guadalupe on 12 December and concludes on Candlemas, which is 2 February. I like to to think that it’s over on 6 January, Dia de los Reyes.

Only 25 December and 1 January are official federal holidays, so don’t expect anyone to be working at full force during Navidad. It just isn’t going to happen, so you might as well join in the merriment. After all, there are posadas, dinners, brunches, coffees and parties to attend, ponche to be drunk, and, of course, the shopping.

20 December marks the official day by which the aguinaldo, or Christmas bonus, must be paid, and the buying frenzy begins. The federal labor code mandates that employees must be paid 15 days’ worth of salary.

Our grocery stores are filled with Spanish turrones, castanas, Noche Buena beer, bacalao, and even imported fruitcakes.

Now, there are many kinds of people in Mexico, and just as many traditions. Not everyone marches in the lockstep of a single tradition.

One of the classic beverages is ponche, a drink made of cinnamon, stewed fruits and sugar cane – overly sweet, served warmed, and not infrequently tasting like hot cough syrup. On a cold winter night, it can be quite tasty.

Throughout the season, in some parts of the country – obviously the colder areas – fogatas (bonfires) are set in the street.

And the posadas, piñatas, pastorelas! And the fireworks!!!

The traditional Christmas meal – which can range from chivo to pavo relleno to mole and bacalao Vizcaya – is served on Christmas Eve. Whoops, I forgot to mention the romeritos with dried shrimp. Or it can be as simple as tamales in some households. Or the festive ensalada Navidena, a salad which includes beets, jicama, orange or grapefruit, and candy.

And then there’s the rooster mass, at midnight.

Christmas Day is a non-event in many households, still in recuperation from the night-before’s festivities. Or it can mean a cockfight.

Some people have nativity scenes set up in their homes, and others have one or more traditional Christmas trees. Some folks decorate their houses with lights, and others don’t do anything particularly special. The major children’s toyfest takes place on the morning of 6 January, a day on which they still have to attend school. In some families, that’s the only Christmas gift-giving experience. Others practice a tradition Christmas gift-giving as well as something on Day of the Kings. One friend described the Christmas as the time for a family-oriented gift like a new computer and those sweaters that elderly aunts simply must knit for her sobrinos, leaving Day of the Kings as the opportunity for giving a child the toys he or she really wanted.

The traditional food of Dia de los Reyes is a rosca de reyes, a ring-shaped bread studded with fruits. Some curmudgeons joke that the only thing worse than a small piece of rosca is a large one. Tiny baby figures are placed in the bread, and whomever receives a slice with the figure is expected to throw a party – or at least provide tamales – on 2 February. Just to make sure, the rosca contains several figurines.

For me, the Christmas season officially begins with the Day of the Virgen de la Salud, where she is honored in Pátzcuaro with the march of the mojigangas, and ends somewhere shortly after the Fuego Nuevo de Purépecha.

For even more about how Christmas is celebrated in Mexico, there’s no better resource than Mexico Connect’s Christmas Index, which can be found at http://www.mexconnect.com/...ature/xmasindex.html


(This post was edited by jenniferrose on Nov 30, 2002, 7:32 PM)


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