For our final stop on our global holiday tour, we’re heading to Mexico, a place filled with a culture that offers unique holiday traditions and delicious food.
Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe
According to legend, the Virgen de Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego on December 12th, ordering him to build her a temple. Once the clergy was convinced of her appearance, they built La Basílica de Guadalupe on Tepeyac Hill, near Mexico City.
In modern times, people travel for days to La Basílica for mass on December 12th. Their vehicles are usually covered in decorations, such as crosses, balloons, lights, and musical horns.
To honor the story of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter for the birth of Jesus, people in Mexico gather to pedir posada, or ask for shelter. This tradition is known as Las Posadas, and involves singing, enjoying food and drink, and playing with piñatas. One traditional drink is ponche, a fruity spiced drink that can be served hot or cold, with or without alcohol. These posadas usually start on December 13th and go until Christmas Eve.
La Noche de Rábanos
In Oaxaca, Mexico, people celebrate La Noche de Rábanos (Radish Night) on December 23rd. In the 16th century, the Spanish brought radishes to Mexico. According to legend, two Spanish friars encouraged the indigenous people to grow radishes and carve designs into them to sell at markets. Currently, large, intricately carved radishes are displayed on the 23rd, but the celebration only lasts a few hours.
In Mexico, the main Christmas dinner occurs on December 24th. Some families open presents as the clock strikes midnight, while others wait until January 6th, known as Three Kings Day. The dishes enjoyed at dinner vary, though traditional foods such as turkey, potatoes, romeritos con mole, and hojarascas can be found on most tables.
New Year’s in Mexico is a quieter celebration than many other cultures. On this night, many families celebrate at home, with fun traditions such as eating 12 grapes to set monthly intentions, walking the streets with luggage to bring travel, and wearing specific colors of underwear to manifest what they’re hoping for in the new year.
Día de Reyes
Also known as Día de Los Reyes Magos, or Día de Los Santos Reyes, this holiday is celebrated on January 6th. On this day, people eat a piece of Rosca de Reyes, a bread that has muñequitos (little dolls) hidden inside. If you happen upon a piece containing a muñequito, you must serve everyone tamales on February 2nd, which is Día de la Candelaria. For some, the Three Wise Men visit on the night of January 5th to bring gifts, which are then opened on the Día de Reyes.
Do you have favorite holiday traditions from your culture that you would like to share? We would love to hear about them in the comments!