Celebrating Christmas in Mexico

A Christmas tree stands tall in Mexico City.

When December comes around, Mexicans all around the world begin to celebrate Christmas in a very special way. With delicious food, beautiful poinsettias and bright lights, people embrace their Mexican heritage through traditions celebrated with their family and friends. People gather to cook delicious food, decorate their houses, sing Christmas carols and spend quality time with their loved ones for this special time of the year. Mexican culture is rarely seen in northern Maine, but when it is seen, it is proudly represented. At UMPI, there are many Mexican students and it is important that they are all represented.

In the 16th century, when Christianity arrived in Mexico, Spanish Catholic priests brought Catholicism. With the priests, came the celebration of Christian holidays, including Christmas. The traditions on Christmas have grown and changed over time, but they are still seen strongly around the world as Mexicans migrate. Christmas traditions from other cultures have also been added to due to an interaction with many different people. Today, we see Mexicans celebrate traditions from a variety of indigenous culture, Spanish heritage and many others. Mexicans celebrate Christmas throughout the whole month of December, but when the actual day comes, they begin their festivities on late Christmas Eve and early Christmas Day.

Mexican cuisine is seen all throughout the month. Tamales, pozole and many more items are cooked up during the holiday. Tamales are the most common dish served during the holidays. A tamale is filled with masa, also known as dough. The masa is wrapped in a corn husk and is cooked for a long period of time before being eaten. Pozole is a soup made up of meat, corn, and spices.

“For Christmas, we actually go to my great-grandma’s. My mom’s side come together and we do a gift exchange. Afterwards, we eat tamales, ham, rice and potato salad. Ever since I was little, we always go over to celebrate, since there’s a lot of us,” UMPI freshman, Savannah Borland, said.

Beautiful poinsettias are displayed in homes during December. Poinsettias are native to Mexico and are widely represented during Christmastime for itheir red and green colors. Families also set up nativity sets, which are art objects representing the birth of Jesus. Christmas trees are set up in households and around communities. Mexico City hosted the world’s largest Christmas tree at 362 feet in 2009.

“Every Christmas my family and I get together and make tamales, a delicious mix of red chili beef, wrapped in masa. We make them every year a day or two before Christmas and basically eat them every day until we run out! It’s a pretty long process, so everyone helps,” UMPI junior, Sarah Duncklee, said. “On Christmas Day my Tio goes to the store after church and gets pan dulce, while my Tia makes chorizo with eggs and potatoes. Once breakfast is done, we all sit together and eat, then open presents.”

The holiday season is a special time of the year, where we all make memories with our family and friends. During this special time of the year we are reminded that wherever we go during the holidays, our heritage always follows.