Feliz Navidad from Mexico
The Nativity scene at the north end of the Malecon in La Paz. This particular scene involves many mannequins, thousands of lights and hundreds of visitors every night
Here in Baja California and all of Mexico, the Christmas season really begins with the first day of “Posadas” commencing on the 12th of December following Dia de Senora de Guadelupe. These days it seems the Posadas for the businesses (Christmas parties) are starting even earlier so that executives or employees may travel to see their families in other parts of Mexico or world for that matter. Be aware that once the 15th of December passes less and less of the bosses (patrons), lawyers, managers and executives are available to discuss or make decisions concerning business.
These Posadas or festivities will continue on through, till the last day of Christmas known as the Epiphany or Three Kings day, January 6th.This is also where the 12 days of Christmas comes from and many families still give one small gift everyday till the 6th. The more traditional Posada generally begins as a candlelight processions which then end into all night fiestas that continue on for nine days until Christmas. In many areas of Mexico they still re-enact the Holy families search for food and lodging in Bethlehem on each of these days.
While you will not see as many Christmas trees, as in the other parts of the world there are many more that there were just a few years ago. Only a few years ago, the traditional Baja California Christmas tree was the dried skeleton remains of the century plants stem and flower. Painting these tree shaped stalks gold or silver and hanging decorations from the branches was very common to see.
Nowadays with the major shopping centers selling fresh cut trees from the north you can have a real pine tree for your home or you may buy artificial trees as well. You will also find these days many of the same Christmas decorations, such as ornaments and Christmas lights for the trees and your house like you would find all over the U.S. You will also encounter a great deal of Poinsettias available here in Baja California. That is because the “Flor del Noche Buena” (poinsettia) originally came from mainland Mexico and has been used to celebrate Christmas for many years. Click here for additional article on Flor del Noche Buena.
The Mexicans also create or visit el Nacimiento (nativity scenes) in most towns as well as in many houses with the Holy Family, Reyes del Mágico (3 wise men), angles and animals in a manger. Then on Christmas Eve or Noche Buena as it is called in Mexico, a Baby Jesus always is placed in the manger.
Interestingly, while Santa has become more popular, in the past it was traditionally the Three Wise Men that the children would write their wish list to in hopes of receiving their gifts on the 6th of January, Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day). The children historically would leave out their shoes on the 5th of January with hay for the camels (or possibly burros in Baja) so the Wise Men would favor their wishes and leave them their gifts.
Here in Baja California many of the Mexicans do most of their opening of gifts on Christmas Eve (Noche Buena) as well as have large family dinners that last all night in many cases. While there are many that still prefer to open some of or all of their Christmas gifts on Día de los Reyes.
Another tradition for the Dia del los Reyes is the eating of the “Rosca de Reyes” a sweetbread cake, ring shaped, like bunt a cake, with small bits of fruit and candy inside. One of the special traditions in eating this cake is that there is a small plastic doll that represents baby Jesus that is hidden for one to find.
The one that receives the baby is responsible for giving a party and has to make the tamales for the Fiesta de la Candelaria on February 2. This is to be considered the last party of the Christmas season. Leave it to the Mexicans to stretch Christmas to over 3 months of fiestas!
Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Nuevo