It’s finally the holiday season, and we at El Charrito are excited to get ready to celebrate. Just like in the states, Christmas is a big deal in Mexico, too. Today, on the El Charrito blog, we are going to talk about what you need to know about Mexican Christmas traditions and food. Don’t forget to come on in to El Charrito the next time you are hungry! We offer the best mexican food in the Monterey area and have been a Salinas institution for over 30 years. Learn more about us and check out our menu on our website.
5 Things You Need to Know About Christmas in Mexico
As we mentioned before, Christmas in Mexico is a major holiday that, like our own traditions in the States, lasts for the entire month of December. However, the Mexican celebration of Christmas lasts even longer — even into February!
It’s Not Just About Christmas Eve
Feast of Virgin Guadalupe
The Christmas season begins December 3rd with the celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The first day begins a nine-day novena or traditional praying and ends on December 12th with the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. As part of the celebration, many Mexican Catholics of all races make a pilgrimage to her basilica in Mexico City.
Las Posadas follows and lasts from December 16-24th. Las Posadas is a series of parties and processions that are considered by most to be the favorite part of the holiday celebration. The purpose of Las Posadas is to think about the pilgrimage of Mary and Joseph to the inn (la posada means “inn”). During this time, there is a piñata that is to be broken followed by a meal of tamales, atole, buñuelos, and ponche, a delicious fruity hot drink that is sometimes spiked for adults. At the end of this event, small gifts are given to guests and carols (villancicos) are sung by the nativity scene.
Los Santos Inocentes
Los Santos Inocentes translated “The Sainted Innocents” is essentially the Mexican April Fools Day. On this day, anyone can borrow anything and not have to return it. Many will try to dupe their more gullible friends, family, and neighbors on this day. The purpose of this holiday, however, is to celebrate those boys who were murdered by King Herod.
Three Kings’ Day (Epiphany)
Día de los Tres Reyes Magos celebrates the three kings or wisemen that visited Christ on January 5th. To celebrate, some children set a shoe by the door and others release a helium balloon into the sky. Inside the balloon or shoe is a note written by the child explaining if they have been good or bad that year and the gifts that they would like. The next morning, presents are opened and rosca a sweet bread with a tiny figurine of Jesus inside is eaten as part of the celebration. Whoever finds the Jesus figure has to pay for the Candlemas’ tamales.
Candlemas commemorates Christ’s presentation at the temple and is celebrated on February 2nd. Those celebrating will dress up in elaborate clothing, bring small images of Christ to be blessed, and share a meal of tamales and atole afterward.
Christmas in Mexico
Christmas Eve begins with the Mass of the Rooster at the local Catholic church and sometimes the crowing of a rooster. Afterward, sometime before midnight, everyone sits down to a feast of traditional dishes such as bacalao, revoltijo de romerita, suckling pig, and ponche or cider. Children enjoy playing with sparklers called luces de Bethlehem and then when at midnight presents are opened.
Stay tuned for a follow up post, to learn more about traditional food enjoyed during the celebration of Christmas and be sure to stop by El Charrito for the best mexican food in Salinas and the Monterey area!