One of my favorite childhood memories is spending the holiday season in Mexico. Christmas in Mexico gave me insight into how my parents spent their holidays growing up.
For us, it seems as if it is our annual family reunion because we get to reunite with all my aunts and uncles, cousins and family friends. During this season, there are lots of parties, and we get to indulge in traditional Mexican food and drinks.
It seems as if it is our annual family reunion because we get to reunite with all my aunts and uncles, cousins and family friends.
Everyone starts preparing for Christmas a few days before by buying ingredients to cook that week, wrapping all the presents and getting ready for the family’s gift exchange or “Secret Santa.” Aside from household duties, each small town hosts a “Posada.” Posadas are a main event that take place starting nine days before Christmas. The Catholic religion plays a big role in the Mexican culture and hosting posadas is a way Mexicans celebrate Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
You will see a nativity scene in almost every home. During each night of the posada, family and friends gather to sing carols with their neighbors. Everyone in the town gathers at the end to break a piñata, pass out goodie bags (or bolos) and eat and drink together. Each night of the Posada is a celebration, but the last night (Christmas Eve), is when they do a larger celebration and typically host a party until late at night and enjoy their homemade traditional food and drinks along with live music and dancing.
During each night of the posada, family and friends gather to sing carols with their neighbors.
For food, tamales are typically served for Christmas Eve. Tamales are made from a corn based dough, “masa,” and filled with various ingredients such as shredded pork, chicken, cheese and poblano peppers. They are wrapped in corn husks and steamed for a few hours. Then, the corn husk is removed before eating.
Another dish typically served is “pozole.” This is a hominy stew that contains pork and broth made from the meat and a salsa base. The stew is simmered for a few hours, blending the flavors from the meat, the hominy and either red or green peppers. This dish is then topped with radishes, cabbage, fresh lime juice and onions and eaten with crispy tortilla chips.
For drinks, Mexicans either enjoy hot chocolate or a warm fruit punch or “ponche.” Ponche is typically made with water, and fresh and dried fruit such as guavas, apples, oranges hibiscus, sugar cane, cinnamon and sweetened with “piloncillo” or cane sugar. The citrus and cinnamon scents mixed together with the rest of the fruits and spices make this drink a must for a cozy night!
Christmas in Mexico will always be a memorable time for me, enjoying tamales or pozole, a warm cup of ponche and sitting next to a bonfire surrounded by loved ones. I hope that wherever you spend Christmas this year, you too are keeping your family traditions alive no matter where you are in the world.