If you are visiting or live in the Playa del Carmen area, be ready to have a different Christmas experience. Many celebrations are still attached to religious dates and traditions, some of them are similar to other countries and some others are very unique.
We have listed some of the holiday celebrations you will find in Mexico, and the meanings of the celebrations; so if you get invited to a Posada, or get the “Mono” in the King’s day bread you know what people are talking about.
This is the name given to the festivities that surround Christmas: starting on the 12th of December celebrating the Virgin of Guadalupe and including Christmas, King’s day (January 6th) and for some people even Candlemas (February 2nd).
The Virgin of Guadalupe:
Christmas Celebrations in Mexico start with the festivities offered to the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 12th. The Virgin of Guadalupe is the Patron Saint of Mexico, and has millions of devoted followers, every year in the Riviera Maya you can see guys running or biking on the roads carrying her image.
In the city, you might see groups of people marching in the streets carrying the image of the virgin, and using fireworks before arriving to the church to pray and hear mass. These celebrations go for many days previous and after the 12th of December.
Mexico celebrates Christmas with a variety of religious events, to commemorate the birth of baby Jesus and one of the most traditional is the Posadas.
Posadas starts on December 16th, and it commemorate the 9 day journey Joseph and Mary took to Belem. According to the tradition, Joseph, accompanied by his wife Mary, walked from the town of Nazareth in Belem to meet their tax obligations. Upon arrival, the Virgin was about to give birth, and they went to inns and homes asking for shelter. After being rejected many times, they took refuge in a barn where baby Jesus was finally born.
Posadas can come in any shape, from traditional style with the figures of Joseph and Mary being carried away from home to home, the traditional song asking for shelter and finally praying the rosary; followed with a party with food, drinks and a pinata.
If you have human contact of any sort, expect to be invited to many posadas a week; they can be organized by work, school institutions, and so on. Not surprisingly, people put on some extra pounds in this period!!!
Cena de Navidad (Dec 24th):
One of the things that confuse foreigners the most is the fact that Mexicans celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve: there is a big dinner with friends and family, then presents are opened and everyone stays up late!
For dinner, Mexicans have traditional offerings such as: turkey, pork tenderloin, ham or they go for Mexican Christmas dishes such as: Bacalao, Romeritos or traditional Tamales.
Dia de Reyes (King’s Day, Jan 6th):
According to the Gospel of Matthew, the three wise men found the divine child by following a star across the desert for twelve days to Bethlehem. Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar — representing Europe, Arabia, and Africa respectively– travelled by horse, camel, and elephant in order to present baby Jesus with gifts.
In Mexico, this festivity closes the Guadalupe- Reyes period and it is celebrated by joining friends and family and sharing some “Rosca de Reyes”, a traditional bread that has dried fruit on top and a hidden figure of baby Jesus is baked inside. If you get the baby Jesus figurine, prepare yourself to offer a party with Tamales on El dia de la Candelaria!
Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas, Feb 2nd):
If you haven’t eaten enough by now, Candlemas brings one last celebration. The people that got the baby figurine in the Rosca de Reyes has to offer a party with Tamales and Atole, and the festivities are finally over!
Celebrating Christmas in Mexico can be surprisingly different or familiar, depending of your country of origin. What is important is keeping an open mind to enjoy everything the festivities have to offer.
Here at Top Mexico Real Estate, we hope you have a wonderful time! Happy Holidays!