The Extended Holiday Season in Mexico

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Isn’t it amazing in Mexico how holidays just stretch out for weeks at a time? No wonder it is the best time of the year!

The procession honouring the Virgen de Guadalupe in La PazSaturday, December 12th is Dia de Guadalupe, a special day to many Catholics, especially Mexicans, as it is the day that the Virgin of Guadalupe (or, La Virgen de Guadalupe, en español) was to have appeared before peasant Juan Diego near Mexico City in 1583.

Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico and the Americas, and her feast day is one of the most important days on the religious calendar for most Latinos. In Mexico, it has been a national holiday since 1859.

This gentle saint is seen as a champion of the poor and downtrodden, and her devotees refer to her in loving diminutives, such as La Morenita. At almost any shrine to Guadalupe, petitioners leave notes thanking La Virgencita for answering prayers, or asking for her help.

December also has the posadas, which makes December a very festive month. Las Posadas mean “the inns” or  “the shelters” in Spanish.  A religious and social celebration that takes place for nine nights, from December 16th to the 24th, the holiday known as Las Posadas commemorates Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem and their search for shelter prior to the birth of Christ. Some folks will invite you to their Christmas party, but will use the term posada, instead of fiesta.

Then, on December 28th, we celebrate the Día de los Santos Inocentes. This is a day for pranks, equivalent to April Fool’s Day. Don’t be surprised if you see a few outlandish headlines and stories in the local newspapers today. If you read to the end of the article, you will learn that only “an innocent dove” would believe that story. These pranks are called “inocentadas”.

And just after the huge celebrations for New Years, we have Kings Day that doesn’t conclude until February 2, Candelaria Day!

Kings Day in Mexico, known as the Día de Reyes, is celebrated by families holding onto the traditions of years past and is celebrated on January 6th.

On Kings Day, which has a religious background, children in Mexico receive gifts brought to them by the Three Kings, los Reyes Magos, Melcher, Gaspar and Balthazar.  However, most kids in La Paz receive gifts from both Santa Claus and the Kings.  The Santa Claus tradition has been imported from the United States while Kings Day has been passed down from generation to generation in Mexico.

rosca1On Kings Day it is tradition for places of work, government offices and family and friends to get together to eat rosca de reyes, a sweet bread shaped like a wreath, with candied fruit on top, and plastic figurines that are to represent baby Jesus, baked inside. People who find the figurine in their piece of rosca must throw a party on February 2, Candelaria Day, offering tamales and atole, (a hot drink thickened with corn flour) hot chocolate or coffee to their guests.  Canderlaria Day is another traditional holiday for everyone to get together to celebrate at home or in places of work.

The party just never ends these next few weeks! Take the time to learn local traditions and enjoy the season with family and friends.


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