Of the many culturally diverse Christmas traditions you can experience around the world, there is nothing quite like the magic of a Posada Navideña to celebrate the Christmas season.
Whether or not you already honor Christmas traditions as a part of your cultural customs, you will be sure to appreciate the jovial spirit of Mexican Christmas traditions throughout the month of December if you are in Mexico.
Celebrated throughout Hispanic countries in Latin America, a Posada Navideña entails a sequence of celebrations leading up to Christmas Day. Being a predominantly Catholic country, posadas in Mexico are a commemoration of the nativity story. Posada is the Spanish word for “inn” and refers to Joseph and Mary’s search for refuge on their way to Bethlehem before giving birth to baby Jesus.
These Mexican celebrations last a whole nine nights from December 16th to the 24th and include street processions with lighted candles that typically end at someone’s house - where a party is being held. People, often children in costume, will reenact the struggle of Joseph and Mary during the procession and knock on people’s doors to find shelter (known in Spanish as the caminata). Songs are sung to ‘reject’ the participants of the procession just as Joseph and Mary were turned away despite their pleas for a place to stay.
A typical Mexican posada party will feature iconic staples of Mexican traditions and culture such as hot dishes, drinks, and music in addition to the ubiquitously familiar imagery of Christmas traditions such as evergreen wreaths, mangers, metallic ornaments, and garlands. The festivities of these Mexican Christmas traditions are held both at churches and in local communities, and here scriptures are read and Christmas carols are sung.
Piñatas are also a quintessential element of these Mexican celebrations. While a part of many well-known Mexican traditions, such as birthday parties, piñatas actually originate from the Posada Navideña. The shape of the seven-pointed piñata represents both the star of Bethlaham and the seven sins while being blindfolded represents one’s faith; and the breaking of the piñata symbolizes defeating one’s sins. Of course, the piñata is filled with cookies, candy, fruits, and nuts for all to enjoy.
Of all the Mexican celebrations you can experience, Christmas posadas are one of the best occasions to try an unforgettable array of culinary delights. At the heart of these Mexican Christmas traditions are well-known Mexican foods such as tamales, atole, and churros, but you can also try pozole, a stew made with meat and hominy, which is one of the most popular dishes to serve at most posadas in Mexico.
True to the decorum of most Mexican celebrations, you can find the most time-honored Mexican drinks such as beer (cerveza in Spanish) and tequila. But the Mexican traditions for Christmas include a special non-alcoholic drink called ponche navideño (holiday punch) - a celebratory drink made with fruit, spices, sugar, and water.
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