Are you planning to visit Mexico during the holiday season? If you are, then you might be surprised to know that Christmas in Mexico is an exciting time. Mexican families have their own customs and they have taken on some of the customs of the United States too, which include Christmas trees and Santa Claus, but the Mexican Christmas has an added cultural appeal.
What to Expect of a Mexican Christmas
Visiting Mexico during Christmas is a beautiful and special time. You will first notice that the shops in the plazas are decorated with lights and Christmas trees just like in the United States and Canada. At the beach destinations like Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and Cancun, you might also see sand sculptures in honor of Christmas, with nativity scenes and Santas carved in sand.
One of the notable differences of a Mexican Christmas is that the holiday is celebrated on Christmas Eve, not on the 25th. Families gather together on the 24th for a meal, often after they have been to Christmas mass. They will enjoy traditional Mexican drinks and foods like ponche (like punch), atole (a corn based chocolate drink), tamales and cod until the wee hours of Christmas morning. A few small gifts will be exchanged, but nothing like they are in Canada and in the United States, because in Mexico it is more about spending time with your family than giving gifts. Children don’t expect to receive many gifts at this time, because they are waiting for the Three Kings in January (Dia de Reyes) for their gifts. Dia de Reyes is the favorite holiday for children in Mexico, not Christmas.
Rosca de Reyes
The Rosca de Reyes is a delightful delicacy that is a sweet bread served on el Dia de Reyes. The bread is shaped to look like a crown that kings wear, and inside the sweet bread will be a baby Jesus that is made of ceramic. Each member of the family will cut the rosca and if their slice contains the Baby Jesus, they will be responsible for hosting the next party on Candlemas (Dia de Candelaria) that is held on February 2nd. The February 2nd party is when traditional Mexican tamales are served and all the same family members will be invited.