Mexican Christmas Dinner, Much More Than Turkey, Stuffing and Gravy!

Mexican Christmas dinner might be an exciting experience for newcomers to this country, or a celebration full of memories for those seasoned retirees enjoying the holidays south of the border.

Retiring to Mexico goes beyond learning  a new language, or sorting out immigration and health insurance. Living in Mexico also pushes retirees to adapt old traditions and add new ones; mixing ingredients, languages, people and creating memories in your new home.

There are almost a million foreigners living in Mexico, there is a bigger offer of North-American products in the Mexican supermarkets. However, if you are planning to have a traditional Christmas dinner there might be a limited variety in items like: stuffing, cranberry sauce and others.

Some retirees stick to the traditional Christmas dinner and stock on basic ingredients when they travel home. Others ask friends and family to bring the ingredients from their places of origin and a third group improvises or adapts to the regional flavor and ingredients.

If you are wondering what would be a Traditional Mexican Christmas dinner, well it depends. Every region has its specialties and flavors so a christmas dinner can be a turkey, roasted pork leg, tamales, or even grilled meat.

So, if you are feeling adventurous this christmas, here are some suggestions to try a Mexican Christmas dinner:

A traditional Mexican Turkey dinner:

In Mexico a  traditional turkey dinner;  consists of a baked turkey stuffed with ground meat, spices and fruit. This is served with some pasta or potatoes as well as other traditional side dishes such as romeritos or Bacalao a la Vizcaina (Basque style cod).

A delicious suckling pig Roast (Lechon al horno)

This is my favorite Yucatecan dish, and if you are lucky enough to live in the Yucatan Peninsula you must try it! This is a traditional recipe but it is not spicy, and the flavors mix perfectly and leave a really juicy meat; it is also ideal to have the next day as Tacos or tortas.


(10-12 servings)

  • 1 piglet (12 – 16 pounds)
  • 6 sour oranges (the juice)
  • 6 crushed garlic cloves
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • Pepper
  • Ground cumin
  • Salt
  • Red Achiote paste (Annatto paste)
  • Baking soda

24 hours before roasting:

  1. Mix the ingredients to form a marinade and let the piglet soak in this juice for 8-24 hours
  2. Make deep cuts on the meat so the marinade can really soak in the meat  (if possible, do not pierce the skin)
  3. Rub the meat and skin with the marinade

Before roasting the pig in the oven:

  1. Dry the skin thoroughly with a paper towel
  2. Rub all the skin with cooking oil or lard

To roast the suckling pig:

  1. Place the piglet with the skin side up in a baking dish with the marinade as the cooking surface. Do not overturn the piglet until the end.
  2. Preheat the oven to high (200ºC) Introduce the piglet and cook for 1/2 hour
  3. Reduce the heat to 180º C, and  cook for 4 to 5 hours, depending on the size of the piglet.
  4. After cooking, remove from the oven and sprinkle the skin with baking soda, and use a clean cooking brush to spread the powder
  5. Return to the oven using the grill to brown, and let the skin get a golden color

Note: Follow this process and make sure the skin does not touch the cooking juice, in order to get a crunchy skin.

To Serve:

Cut into uniform pieces and bring to the table.

We hope you have a great time making these recipes, and enjoy your Mexican Christmas. We would love to hear what dishes are your favorite, and if you try our recipes please let us know how it turns out!

Christmas Traditions in the Riviera Maya: Posadas, La Rama and More…

Once that you choose the Riviera Maya as your new home, you will find there are Christmas traditions that are unique to this part of the world.

Retiring to Mexico is a dream for many; beautiful weather, cheap cost of living and with direct flights to most of the main North American cities. Over a million foreigners have chosen Mexico as their home. You’ll surely find many traditional ingredients to make your christmas dinner!

However, moving to Mexico means to adjust to a whole different set of christmas traditions, such as:

“La Rama”

La Rama is a tradition with origins in Veracruz. Nonetheless, it has spreaded all over the southeast of the country including the states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo. This tradition is literally a branch of a tree, which is decorated as a Christmas tree and taken around the neighborhood.

In the Riviera Maya it is common to see groups of children going around with a branch of a tree or a decorated palm leaf, they do some caroling and then ask for a donation in cash.

Mexican Christmas Traditions


Las posadas is a tradition with christian roots. They were celebrated with friends and family to commemorate Joseph and Mary and their journey to Bethlehem. The celebration was leaded by traditional caroling asking the owners of the house for lodging,  after the door was opened there was more singing and praying.

Posadas nowadays might be traditional or just regular Christmas parties with friends, neighbours, coworkers and family members. It is not rare to have invitations to these parties almost every weekend. Also, there is an abundance of food, drink, candies and pinatas.

Mexican Christmas Traditions


The pinata is maybe one of the most recognizable Mexican traditions. Pinatas have many shapes, colors and materials. However, the original pinata had the shape of a star. Also, it was part of the Christmas celebrations as a symbol of the seven deadly sins and the people using a stick representing virtue to overcome temptation. The blindfold represented the faith and finally the candy or fruit inside the pinata was a prize for those able to destroy it.

Pinatas are almost always present in Christmas parties in Mexico. Moreover, it is a great fun for children and adults.

Mexican Christmas Traditions

Are you familiar with any of these traditions? Have you witnessed them? We would love to hear your experience with Christmas Mexican celebrations.  The team in Let’s Retire in Mexico wishes you a Feliz Navidad!!

Happy Holidays!

Thomas Lloyd and the Top Mexico Buyer’s Representatives want to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

May the festive season bring you Joy, happiness and success throughout the New Year.

And if in the New Year you want to invest in a vacation home, retirement home or investment property anywhere throughout Mexico, we will be glad to help you find your very own piece of paradise.

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate

We Make It Happen!

Happy Holidays from Top Mexico Real Estate

Christmas Dinner with a Twist: Cochinita Pibil!

Christmas Dinner with a Twist: Yucatecan cuisine is the delicious result of a culinary mix that combines Mayan, European, Caribbean and Cuban influences. The culinary delights of the region are made of an exquisite blend of Mexican and European flavors, favoring the use of pork and chicken for their traditional recipes.

A bit of history will explain the strong European influence: the Yucatan Peninsula was considered inaccessible and far from the rest of Mexico, there were only a few roads and they were very dangerous.  Most of the commerce and transportation was made using ships with cultural and commercial dealings with Europe, New Orleans and Cuba; influencing the Yucatecan clothing, architecture and cuisine.

If you want to celebrate your Christmas dinner with a twist, why not prepare the most traditional dish in the Peninsula?

We present: Cochinita Pibil, a Yucatecan delight that requires very little prep and will surprise all your guests with the delicacy of the flavors and the juiciness of the meat.

Christmas Dinner with a Twist: Cochinita Pibil

Ingredients (servers 10 – 12):

– 2 leaves of banana, you need to roast them on the stove so they become softer (you can get      them in your local supermarket, they are big folded green leaves)

– 1 ½ kilo or 3.3 pounds of pork leg

– ½ kilo or 1 pound of pork loin with rib

– 200 grams or 7 ounces of achiote seasoning (sold in every supermarket, outside of Mexico buy it online or in Latin stores)

– 1 cup sour orange juice or mix half vinegar and half fresh orange juice

– ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

– 1 teaspoon dried oregano

– 1 teaspoon white pepper powder

– ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

– ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

– You might add coarsely ground allspice to taste

– 3 cloves garlic smashed

– ½ teaspoon chili powder

– Salt to taste

– 125 grams or 4.4 ounces of lard/ butter

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– 8 radishes well washed and finely chopped

– 1 small red onion, finely shredded

– 4 habanero peppers finely chopped

– ½ cup finely chopped cilantro

– 1 cup sour orange juice

– Salt to taste


  1. Get a baking dish big enough to hold the meat and cover it with the roasted banana leaves, leaving it long enough to wrap the meat.
  2. Place the meat pieces in the baking dish and use the leaves to cover everything well.
  3. Dissolve the achiote paste in the sour orange, then add the spices and pour this mix on the meat.
  4. Marinate the pork for at least eight hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  5. Once you are ready to cook the pork, melt the lard or butter and make sure to cover all the meat, rewrap the banana leaves and cover with foil.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 175 °C or 350 °F for 1½ hours, the meat has to be so soft that almost falls apart.
  7. Shred the meat with a fork and serve with the sauce and plenty of tortillas!


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1.    Mix all the ingredients and let them marinate for at least three hours.


Use a piece of banana leave to cover the bottom of a serving dish, place the Cochinita on top and garnish with some red onion or cilantro leaves.

Hints and tips:

Remember that habanero is an extremely hot chili, you need to warn your guests and let them add the sauce to taste, accompanied by corn tortillas.

One of the beauties of Cochinita Pibil is that is not only a very popular dish, but also the leftovers can be eaten in tacos, tortas, fried tacos and so on.

Also, some people prefer to cook the Cochinita in the slow cooker, which is possible by lining the cooker with the banana leaves. Then you need to pour ½ cup water around the meat, fold up the banana leaves to roughly cover everything, then turn on the slow-cooker.  Slow-cook for 6 hours until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender (the dish can be held on a slow-cooker’s “keep warm” function for an additional 4 hours).

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Christmas Celebrations in Mexico: Posadas, Guadalupe-Reyes and Others!

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.

Guadalupe- Reyes:

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.

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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!!!

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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!

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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!

Christmas Shopping in the Riviera Maya: Organic, Natural and Locally Made

Christmas shopping in the Riviera Maya can be done traditionally – there are plenty of department stores, shopping malls and local shops, all ready to wrap your presents and full up those stockings. But what if you want to do something different this year? What if you want to give something organic, natural and locally made?

As a local company, here at Top Mexico Real Estate, we pride ourselves on supporting local business and artisans. So here are some suggestions on where to find alternative presents for all your loved ones.

Tianguis Organico y Natural – Tulum
The initiative:
Tianguis Organico y Natural Tulum was started this year by Aldea Zama, promoting the use of organic and natural products in the Tulum area. Their main objective is to support local producers by allowing them to reach the community with their products. If you visit this market, you can expect to meet more than 20 local producers and purchase directly from them, benefiting their families and the regional development.
The products:
The local producers bring natural products such as organic honey, melipona honey, seeds, embroidery and various crafts.

You can give personalized bottles of honey as a present. All you need to do is order a few bottles of organic honey and some personalized stickers; be it a family photo, a Christmas message or a funny quote. For 30 pesos you get an amazing personalized favor that everyone loves!

When: December 14th & 28th from 10:00 AM- 3:00PM
Where: Commercial area of ALDEA ZAMA

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Tianguis Organico – Valladolid
The initiative:
This market is held the first Sunday of each month, right by the magnificent Convento San Bernardino de Siena. Here you can find local producers and organic farmers from the area and buy their products without intermediaries, supporting the community.

The products:
Amongst the articles you can find here are seeds, books, plants and natural cosmetics. The December edition will have a workshop where kids can make Christmas crafts and will raffle off baskets full of goodies!

Walk a short distance to the central plaza and you will find more artisans selling crafts for a really low price. Some favorites are: honey products and sub products, leather sandals, sisal bags and a lot of embroidered items.

Valladolid is a worthy destination for a weekend getaway; make sure to visit the plaza, the tianguis and the nearby haciendas and cenotes.

When: December 7th from 10:00 AM- 2:00PM
Where: Convent of San Bernardino de Sisal, Valladolid, Yucatan.

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Possima Natural Beauty Products & Spa – Playa del Carmen
The initiative:
Possima is a local company that offers beauty products and services in the Riviera Maya. They offer a wide variety of natural, organic and biodegradable products; forget about harsh chemicals.

One of the beauties of Possima is that all of their face and body products are 100% customized for your specific needs. Karla, the owner, will ask questions about your skin, lifestyle, and habits and formulate a cleanser, tonic, serum or cream to fit you!

There is also a spa where you can get a relaxing massage, facial or get a specific treatment for problems such as varicose veins, cellulite, acne and many more.

The products:
Possima offers over 30 products: organic and natural shampoo, soaps, scrubs, massage candles, bath bombs, hair conditioner, keratin treatments and many more. They also have a line of customized face and body products.

A great idea is to purchase a gift card for a massage or a facial treatment. Can you think of a better gift for a stressed friend or loved one?

When: Monday-Saturday 11:00- 2:00 and 4:00- 9:00 (It is better to make an appointment)
Where: 21 street between 110-A and 110-B Forjadores Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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These are only a few of the many options you can find in the Riviera Maya area. There are many more local hardworking people making handcrafted gifts for you and the people you love.

Playa del Carmen has many huge, commercial chains, both foreign and national; what better way to invest your money than purchasing products directly from local producers and businesses?

Happy shopping and Happy Holidays from Top Mexico Real Estate!

New Mall Making Holiday Shopping in Playa del Carmen a success!

Just in time for the holiday season, we are finally seeing Playa del Carmen’s newest and most anxiously awaited project now completed and ready for the high season and Christmas shopping in Playa del Carmen!  If you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about the new Quinta Alegria Mall, located directly on the 5th Avenue in the heart of Playa del Carmen!

For many months we have heard countless rumors about what stores we would see welcomed to Playa del Carmen.  There were many hopes of an H&M and Victoria Secrets, as well as a Cheesecake factory and other beloved American Brands.

While some of these rumors did not prove to be true we still have a final result that is pleasing to many expats who live in Playa as well as favored shopping options for tourists!

So what can you expect to see added to your selection for shopping in Playa del Carmen this holiday season?

  • Sanbourns! Mexico’s well known and loved department store and restaurant selling everything from books, to sunglasses, to perfumes and makeup, to DVD’s and electronics!
  • Victoria Secret Beauty! The VC name is making a mark in Playa for loved fragrances, makeup and accessories!  Sorry ladies, this VC is mainly for accessories!
  • Levis! Perfectly fitting for some cooler Playa nights ahead with their nice selection of denim jeans
  • Columbia! Well-loved brand for outdoor active wear and apparel
  • The Body Shop! We’ve seen it in Cancun but now you can find the best of your favorite lotions, shower gels, hand soaps, sprays and mineral make up items here in Playa!
  • Forever 21! Most anticipated opening among the female crowd in Playa del Carmen.  This Forever 21 has two entire floors reserved for clothing and accessories for women!
  • Bebe! High end clothing store for women well known in the United States

Along with some of these great new additions you will also find some repeats such as the Nike store, Marti Sporting Goods, Mister Tennis, Oakley, Watch my Watch, Sunglass Hut, La Europea, Harley Davidson and Starbucks and more!

The mall itself is a beautiful and attractive addition to the 5th avenue with a very appealing open air design!  If you have been able to walk by these days you will see the beautiful Christmas tree lit up and plenty of pretty white lights inside making it a pleasant new landmark in Playa del Carmen!

Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping in Playa del Carmen this season!

A Special Christmas in Playa del Carmen …for Everyone!

What are your plans for Christmas in Playa del Carmen?  If you are still stumped on what to do or are looking for a great dinner we’ve got a few suggestions with help and courtesy of “In the Roo”.

Playa del Carmen is filling up with Christmas Cheer!  This weekend we will start to see a huge increase in tourism from Americans and Canadians who will be spending the Christmas holiday with us here in Playa del Carmen!

Many people are asking where they can go to spend the holiday and enjoy a great meal and a fun filled night!

Here are a few restaurants suggestions offering special dinners and celebrations on the eve of Christmas in Playa del Carmen:

  • Fusion– Offering a special menu, dinner and entertainment right on the beach
  • [Cocotte] Cita-Offering a special Christmas menu
  • Ipanema’s Brazillian Steakhouse– Offering Turkey, Fish and Christmas apple salad
  • Las Delicias– Offering a 3 course turkey dinner
  • Palm Playa– Offering a Christmas turkey dinner
  • Tropical– Offering a special menu
  • Zenzi-Offering a 5 course turkey dinner on the beach underneath the starts (24th and 25th)
  • Aldea Corazon– Offering 4 course dinner and live music
  • La Casa del Agua– Offering a 3 course turkey dinner (24th and 25th)
  • Madre Tierra– Offering a special Christmas menu
  • Lol Ha– Offering a special Christmas menu
  • Ziggys– Offering a special Christmas menu
  • Fridas– Offering a special Christmas menu
  • Indigo Beach– Offering a 3 course Christmas menu (24th and 25th)
  • Reina Roja– Offering special Christmas selections
  • Segafredo-Offering a special Christmas menu
  • Wah Wah Beach Bar– Traditional Christmas dinner being served buffet style on the beach. All you can eat. Live music and entertainment (December 25th only)

If you don’t see your favorite spot on the list, be sure to check with them!  Most restaurants will be hosting a little something special to help you make a memorable Christmas in Playa del Carmen! Make sure to book your reservations early!

Feliz Navidad and Merry Christmas to all!

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas in Playa del Carmen!

We are one week away from one of the most loved, wonderful time of the year!
It can also be a bit of a stressful time!  For this reason many people will escape the logistics of the holidays and head down to spend Christmas in Playa del Carmen!

The newspapers reported a 98% occupancy rate in the Riviera Maya starting December 20th which means an extraordinary amount of Americans and Canadians will be decking the halls down south this Christmas.

Take Christmas with you wherever you go!

Although a vacation seems lovely we still crave that holiday feeling!  So where do you find it?  Well, where do you truly find anything?  In your heart!  You can bring Christmas anywhere you go!

Being away from home doesn’t have to mean you give up the holidays all together!  You can still make a special Christmas in Playa del Carmen!

If you are living in Playa del Carmen or are renting a vacation home, decorating is made completely easy!  Most retail and grocery stores are selling all kind of Christmas décor, lights, wreaths, trees, poinsettias; everything you need to create your home into a winter wonderland!

Yes you can find real Christmas trees in Playa!

Contrary to what one may think, real Christmas trees can be found in Playa!  Most major grocery stores like Mega or Walmart as well as other major shopping centers like Sams Club do have fresh smelling pine trees for sale!  You don’t have to miss out on that Christmassy smell just because you are in in Caribbean!

What I love about Christmas in Playa del Carmen is that I get to enjoy the beautiful Playa summer weather outdoors but when I step inside my home, I get that warm Christmas feeling just the way I would back in Indiana!  You still get the feeling to bundle up, snuggle in with your family and drink hot chocolate!

Christmas all around town

If you get the chance to walk around town you will find the Christmas spirit nearly everywhere; lit up trees and lights shining, bringing all the charm and feeling of Christmas into your heart!

Eat Drink and Be Merry in Playa del Carmen

If you are traveling and aren’t willing to cook on Christmas you will not have to sacrifice a delicious and traditional Christmas dinner.  Many restaurants, on and off the 5th Avenue, will have special Christmas dinner menus and are completely willing to help to make your Christmas in Playa a special one!

You can even order an entire Christmas feast to be cooked, prepared and delivered to your home eliminating all the mess. Check the local grocery stores, department stores like Sanbourns, and local restaurants and bakeries for their special Christmas dinner packages!

Are you that last minute shopper?

We are all guilty of it!  We have an entire 364 days before Christmas yet, that large population of us will wait until December 23rd and 24th to search for last minute gifts!  If you are in Playa del Carmen for the holiday season, you couldn’t be in a better place to have this problem!

Playa del Carmen is filled with all kinds of shopping options to meet your every need. You can find clothing, accessories, sportswear, shoe stores, electronics, books, games, etc.!

The Quinta Alegria mall has opened up quite a few new selections for shopping lovers right on 5th ave.  You can also check out Liverpool on highway 307 for or Sears located in Plaza Las Americas!

I wish everyone a fun, enjoyable and relaxing Christmas season this year in Playa del Carmen!