It’s finally our favorite time of year in Monterey and it’s time to enjoy holiday lights, Christmas music, and the company of the friends and family that we love. We at El Charrito love Christmas and are excited to let the celebrating begin. Christmas isn’t just a big deal in the United States. Many other cultures go all out for the Christmas festivities. Mexico is one of these countries and today we are going to take a few moments to talk a little bit about some popular traditions that our southern neighbors hold dear during this time of year.
Though many celebrate with a Christmas tree like we do, many Mexican families set up nativity scenes in their homes and yards and even in public areas as well. Usually, nacimientos are set up December 16 with the baby Jesus being added on the 24th and the three kings added last on January 5th.
Posadas are processions that occur to reenact Joseph and Mary’s search for a place to lay their heads the night that Jesus was born. Every night after December 16th, a new posada occurs and ends at a different house which is then followed by a fiesta and most likely a piñata or two!
Pastorelas like nacimientos and Christmas posadas, are based on the Christian tradition of the nativity and are plays put on to show the shepherds on their way to see the Messiah. Though originally, pastorelas were a means to teach the story of the shepherd looking to find the Messiah, today they are more comedic takes on this part of the Christmas story.
Villancicos are Christmas carols that may seem unfamiliar when just looking at their Spanish names. However, many are Spanish versions of traditional Christmas carols in America, such as Noche de Paz, which is Silent Night.
Nochebuena is Christmas Eve. It is the night on which the last posada will be performed and many will attend a midnight mass and will have dinner after. Gifts aren’t usually exchanged, but slowly, the tradition of Santa Claus and gift-giving is catching on as well. However, traditionally, Dia de Reyes also known as King’s Day is the time when gifts are exchanged.
Dia de la Candelaria
If you follow traditional Mexican culture, Christmas doesn’t end on the 25th like it does in the U.S. The Christmas season officially ends February 2nd. On this day, everyone dresses up their Niños Dios, their Christ child figures, and takes them to mass to be blessed. Afterwards, everyone gets together, enjoys tamales, and spends the last night of the holiday season together.
If you can’t tell, Christmas food is a big part of celebrating Christmas. Tamales, Rosca de Reyes, ensalada de Noche Buena, bacalao, romeritos, pozole, pavo, buñuelos, and ponche Navideño are a few of the delicious foods made to celebrate this time of year. Though you won’t be able to try any of these traditional Nochebuena eats at El Charrito this season, we are still serving up all of our delicious menu items to our patrons in Monterey. Stop by our authentic Mexican Restaurant in Monterey and say hello and if you need catering, be sure to call us!