How are the Christmas Holidays Celebrated in Mexico’s Riviera Maya?

Perhaps the sunny white beaches and azure waters of the Riviera Maya aren’t typically the scene you think of when Christmas comes to mind. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some incredible holiday activities for you to participate in this holiday season. Mexico takes Christmas and the holidays quite seriously. The holidays are filled with tradition, love and happiness.

Longer Celebrations

Three Kings

In Mexico, the holidays begin on December 12th with the celebrations of the Virgin of Guadalupe and officially ends on January 6th – the day of the Three Kings. Many extend the date to February 2nd or the Candlemas Day. On this day, they share atole (a traditional warm cornmeal drink) and tamales with friends and family. For those who love a traditional western holiday atmosphere with snowmen and reindeer, there will be no shortage in Playa del Carmen. Authorities line the Palacio Municipal with poinsettia plants, as well as Christmas-themed decorations each year.

Joel Roberts Poinsett was the first Ambassador to Mexico from the USA. Poinsettias are named after him. These beautiful bright-red flowers are native to Central America and specifically an area of southern Mexico called Taxco de Alarcon. Poinsett loved the way the flowers looked and brought them back to America. Now they are Mexico’s official holiday flower. In Spanish, they are known as Noche Buena, which means holy night.

The city center plaza at the Palacio Municipal is also the location of many holiday-themed events during the season. In addition to the poinsettias, there are also other themed displays often with giant Christmas’s trees and mangers. Here, you can also find delicious Mexican street food like marquesitas (thin rolled crispy wafer-like crepes filled with your choice of fillings, including Nutella, cajeta and sprinkled cheese.

Traditional Mexican Christmas

Christmas Piñata

For more traditional Mexican celebrations, you must look into the posadas. Posada in Spanish means inn, or place to stay. These parties come from the story of Jesus being born and his family asking for space at the inn. Mexicans celebrate this with traditional foods like ponche (a drink made from dried ruins and spices), rosca (a Mexican version of fruitcake) and other local delights. Posadas take place from December 16th all the way up to Christmas. Many people throw posadas at their houses. These involve a sing-off where half the party are the inn-keepers and the other half are the Virgin Mary and her family asking to be let in. When the doors open, the celebrations start. You are expected to crack open the famous piñatas during a posada. Each spike representing a capital sin.

From Mass to Dinners

There are also many activities going on throughout the city. Santa Claus often makes a special visit in the days leading up to Christmas at the Playacar Center. If you’re interested in going to a Christmas Eve church service, there are also masses happening at the various churches around the city – including the chapel on the south end of 5th Avenue. You can attend this mass at 6pm, 7pm and 8pm.

Christmas Gifts

Just like in the USA, gifts are a big part of the Christmas celebration in Mexico. Families usually exchange this over dinner on Christmas Eve. Then, children open their Santa Claus presents on Christmas Day. The last gift exchange happens on the morning of January 6th, when children wake up to open the presents brought to them by the Three Kings. On Christmas Day, you will be able to stroll down 5th Avenue and enjoy the calmness of the morning when people are still at home having dinner leftovers.

Give Playa del Carmen a Try

So, if you’re planning on spending the holidays in Playa del Carmen, you’re sure to be able to enjoy the many traditions of the Mexican people. And don’t forget to bring an open mind and big heart. Although Mexicans tend to be friendly year-round, they are specially jolly during this season.

Winter is Coming: Escape the Cold in Mexico’s Riviera Maya

Snowbird is a common term heard in North America. It describes those who enjoy traveling to warmer climates during the winter months. And, seriously, who can blame them? While most of their counterparts in Canada and the United States are spending most of the time indoors, having to stomp through cold rain and snow just to get groceries, snowbirds are cozy warm next to the Caribbean Sea. From warmer weather to annual festivals, there are innumerable reasons why anyone might want to migrate south this winter.

Run from the Snow


While there are pockets of the United States that remain on the warm side during the winter months, most of the rest of Canadians and Americans are pulling out their parkas and galoshes. This year, Edmonton (the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta) had its first snow day on September 12th! That is a full ten days before summer even officially ended. While most of the rest of Canada and the US weren’t quite so unlucky, the winter weather will come for them eventually, as well. But, why wait for winter to come, if you can escape it beforehand?

Snow and cold is a worry far from anybody’s mind in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico. Even in its coldest month of January, temperatures average in the mid-20s Celsius / high-70s Fahrenheit. Although hurricane season lasts from May to November in the Riviera Maya, the depth of winter is safe from storms. It truly is an ideal time of year to warm up next to the Caribbean Sea.

Culture for Days

Santa Claus Snowbird

Another great reason for why any snowbird prefers to spend time in Mexico during the winter months is for the incredible culture. Día de la Revolución on November 20th is a day to mark the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. Visitors to the country can be on the outlook for parades or other street festivals taking place to mark this important day in Mexican history. On the light-hearted side, Día de los Inocentes is on December 28th. This is Mexico’s rendition of April Fools’ Day. Be careful, you might fall victim to fake headlines that newspapers often partake in to celebrate.

Of course, there is also Christmas and New Year’s Day. So, rest assured that you will not miss out on any personal traditions either. You also have the opportunity to add new traditions to your mix. For example, while many Americans or Canadians steal kisses or clink classes at the stroke of midnight, Mexicans look to las doce uvas de la suerte. They eat 12 grapes with each chime of the clock’s bell to bring good luck and prosperity for each month of the new year.

Snowbird Paradise Wonderland


Yet another reason to consider the Riviera Maya if you’re a snowbird is the affordable real estate options. There are thousands of properties out there that are perfect for snowbirds. During the winter months you can occupy them, but the rest of the year you are free to rent them out as vacation rentals, and profit from your property. There are options in Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cancun and even Merida. If you’re looking to run from the freezing winters of the north, you might as well make the most of it by investing in the region. And, who knows? You might just find your forever home here.

Between the beautiful weather and exciting holidays during the winter months of Mexico, it is no secret why the Riviera Maya is an ideal destination for anyone interested in migrating south for the winter. Moreover, it has incredible food and culture year-round, and friendly locals who are always eager to welcome snowbirds into their country.


Expat Tip – Traveling Back Home in the Winter

by Thomas Lloyd

Expats in MexicoWhen traveling back to their home country, most expats will follow the “snow-bird” pattern, choosing the hotter summer months.  Basically, this is the way the option that makes the most sense for the most reasons.  You avoid the most extreme heat in Mexico, while enjoying at least part of the milder northern summers and avoiding the worst part of all of it altogether – freezing cold and snow.


Yet, I know a few people who will make their trips back home during the winter months.  There are several possible motivations for this.  One is that they can spend holidays with their family.  For many expats this becomes less compelling because, as so many expats have pointed out, once you live on a beach in Mexico, you will suddenly find that many family members and friends will actually start visiting you more often – especially for holidays; you may even find that you have friends that you never knew about before!


Expats in MexicoAnother reason is that some people miss the Christmas spirit as they know it from back home.  This may be true especially early on after moving.  Yet, after getting to know Mexico’s rich Christmas traditions, most Americans and Canadians prefer it to the overly commercialized hustle and bustle that has come to define the holidays seasons north of the Rio Grande.


It’s worth noting that most people don’t miss the snow.  It looks beautiful, but most of us remember how cold it is and are quite content to see pictures!


Despite the fact that most reasons to travel north in the winter disappear with time, there are nevertheless some expats who do it.  Most will quite happily follow the snow-bird pattern, or increasingly as time goes on and, many are simply happy to choose Mexico as their full-time home!; Mexico’s Leading Network of Specialists for Finding and Purchasing Mexican Properties Safely

Mexico Health Care Kit