¡Feliz Navidad! (Merry Christmas!) The majority of people love this time of year, either because of the food, the presents (como yo / like me) or just because it's an opportunity to be con nuestros seres queridos (with our loved ones).
But did you know that the tradition of having a Turkey for Christmas dinner comes from Mexico? Well, stay tuned, because in this article I will tell you 5 things you didn’t know about Christmas in Mexico and some typical dishes served in Christmas.
1. We break Piñatas
Las piñatas are one of the most popular Christmas traditions in Mexico. Nowadays, you can find piñatas of pretty much anything, but the original piñatas are shaped like a seven-pointed star representing los siete pecados capitales (the seven deadly sins).
By breaking a piñata —which, by the way, are made of clay or cardboard— sins are destroyed and the sweets and fruits that are inside the piñata fall. Oh, and we sing a song while we do it… because we're Mexicans!
“No quiero oro ni quiero plata, yo lo que quiero es romper la piñata” ( I don't want gold nor do I want money, what I want is to break the piñata)
2. We ask for asylum
Pedir posada (asking for asylum) is one of the most deeply rooted traditions in Mexican Christmas celebrations. Through Christmas carols, it is a night representation of Mary and Joseph's journey asking for asylum to give birth to Baby Jesus.
Los invitados se dividen en dos grupos (guests are divided into two groups): one stays inside the house representing the owners of “la posada” (the shelter), while the others are outside the house asking to come in.
The chants begin and at the end los dos grupos se reúnen (the two groups come together) to start a gratitude party for letting them in.
Posadas normally start on December 16 and last until December 24. Additionally, las posadas se celebran en la noche y a la luz de las velas (posadas are held at night and under candlelights).
By the way, if you’d like to ask for posada in the loving community of our Spring Spanish Academy, check out the free Spanish training we have on our website! In it you’ll discover the method we use in the Spring Spanish Academy to teach Spanish… we give you some free Spanish lessons… and show you how you can join us in our Academy and Community!
3. We do Guadalupe-Reyes, a Marathon
No, no estoy hablando de correr (I'm not talking about running) or doing anything related to exercise or working out, and this might be the tradition de la que estoy menos orgullosa (that I'm least proud of.)
This tradition begins on December 12 —in commemoration of the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, hence the name— and ends on January 6, el día de los Reyes Magos (the day of The Three Wise Men).
It consists of toasting with bebidas alcohólicas (alcoholic beverages) during the festivities todos los días (every day), symbolizing the excesses that are experienced when celebrating so many Christmas parties so close to each other. ¡Salud!
El llamado Maratón Guadalupe – Reyes comenzó en la década de los 90. (The so-called Guadalupe – Reyes Marathon started in the nineties).
4. We go “reheating”
¡Esto no se acaba hasta que se acaba! (This is not over until it is over!)
As you will soon learn, Mexican Christmas dinners are epic, but “el recalentado”, which translation would more or less be “the reheated”, is simply espectacular (spectacular).
It is a tradition in Mexico to visit friends and family on the 25th of December. Since we celebrate Christmas by having dinner on December 24th, we like to go and eat other’s leftovers the next day, los niños juegan con sus juguetes (the children play with their toys) and the family gathers again.
Me da curiosidad (I find it curious) because each household has its own special Christmas dishes, and normally they are presented very well, but the next day is all about tortas and tacos filled with… el recalentado (the reheated leftovers). Ñom Ñom!
(And yes, very often these leftovers also consist of turkey. OUR invention! More about that in a second…)
La comida sabe mejor en el recalentado (Food tastes better at “the reheated”).
5. We have our own Christmas flower
This beautiful bright red flower adorna casas, negocios, oficinas (adorns homes, businesses, offices) and any type of establishment en Navidad aqui en Mexico (on Christmas here in Mexico), its intense red color makes them striking and representative.
They only blossom in cold seasons and the Mexica (one of the civilizations established here) used this plant in ritual celebrations como un símbolo de pureza (as a symbol of purity) and new life for dead warriors, which they associated with the red color of blood.
La flor de Nochebuena es de color rojo brillante (The Christmas flower is bright red).
Bonus: Typical Christmas food
Those are some of the many things we do para celebrar la Navidad en México (to celebrate Christmas in Mexico), but here comes the yummy part… ¿Qué comemos en Nochebuena? (What do we eat on Christmas Eve?)
In Mexico, the holiday of December 24th is usually celebrated with family and it is usually held relatively late at night. Uno de los platos tradicionales navideños es el pavo o guajolote (One of the typical Christmas dishes is turkey). And once again, ¡México lo hizo primero! (Mexico did it first!)
The turkey is originally from here. The Aztecs called it as guajolote, a word that comes from Nahuatl and means jungle clown or water clown. The bird was introduced to the Spanish during the Conquest, y el resto es historia (and the rest is history).
Other typical dishes would be Bacalao a la Vizcaína, which is salted cod fish prepared with olives, tomatoes, onions, etc. Also, puerco de lomo ahumado, pasta, ensalada de manzana con nuez, lechón, pierna envinada, (smoked pork loin, pasta, apple and nuts salad, baked pork, wine pork shank)…
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¡Muy bien! ¿Cuál fue tu dato favorito? (Which was your favorite fact?) ¿Cuál es tu tradición navideña favorita? (What’s your favorite Christmas tradition?) Let me know in the comments!
Have you noticed you’ve been learning Spanish with chunks in this article? Well, they’re part of the method we use in our videos and in our academy that helps you speak Spanish super rapido (super fast)… without having to memorize word lists and grammar rules! You will find out more about it in our free, in-depth Spanish training.