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I’m so excited to be spending another Christmas in Mexico!
This holiday season will be our third in a row outside of the United States, and our second in Mexico. Our first was spent in Antigua, Guatemala. Last year we spent it in Guanajuato, Mexico, and this year we’re in Loreto, Baja California Sur.
In Mexico, they celebrate Christmas from December 12th until January 6th. Not only is it absolutely beautiful in Mexico at Christmastime, but it’s such an amazing cultural experience. I love how some aspects feel familiar (Christmas carols, decorated trees, and lights), and how some are completely new to us.
In this post, I want to share my favorite Mexican Christmas tradition that you may have never heard of (and why I love it so much).
Christmas in Mexico: The Posada
The Posada celebration varies depending on where in Mexico you are.
Last year in Guatajuato, we stayed in a local neighborhood outside the city center. It was definitely not in a touristy area.
Our Airbnb hostess spoke very little English (and me, just as little Spanish). But a few nights before Christmas, she invited us to Posada that evening in the neighborhood square. She said to bring a mug.
We had no idea what Posada was or what to expect. I didn’t Google it, because I have a much better time when I don’t read about what we’re doing first. (For instance, I didn’t look up Baja at all before coming down!)
When we arrived, I’m not gonna lie, we felt so out of place. A few dozen adults and children gathered in a circle with candles, singing what sounded like hymns. It was very beautiful, but felt intimate. We didn’t want to invade, so we just stood back in the shadows and watched.
Then, after awhile, everyone lined up, mugs in hand. We had our mugs but again hesitated because we weren’t sure what was going on. Then a woman we’d never met came over and motioned for us to follow her. She smiled, introduced herself, and lined us up with the rest of the neighbors.
When we got to the front of the line, they filled our mugs with “ponche”, a cider made with apples, figs, herbs, and other fruits. Then they handed us each a bag filled with fruit and candy.
After that, the adults sipped the ponche (some snuck a little rum in theirs) while the children took turns hitting a piñata. The piñata was round with 7 horns on it. We learned that each of the horns represented the 7 deadly sins and they knock those off first.
The history of the Posada
We learned that the Posada takes place each night from December 16 to Christmas Eve (nine in total). Posada represents the biblical part of the Christmas story where Joseph and a pregnant Mary traveled, looking for a place to stay. They get turned away several times by inkeepers claiming no room until finally, one innkeeper says he has room in the barn.
In some regions, the children go door to door each night and sing a song about Mary and Joseph needing a place to stay. The neighbors “turn them away”, saying there’s no room, until they arrive at the host’s house, where they are finally welcomed. Each night, a different home hosts the party.
In our neighborhood, there was no door to door singing, or a party inside someone’s home. Instead, a different neighbor volunteers to host each night. Being a host meant you made the pancha and a gift bag for everyone, usually filled with candies or fruits.
It felt extra special to us since we were the outsiders, and the neighborhood literally took us in and invited us to celebrate with them. It was all the more beautiful because the people here don’t have much to give, yet they gave so willingly and freely to two outsiders.
And this to me, is what the holidays are all about.
The true holiday spirit
Here in Mexico, and in all of our travels, the locals have welcomed us with open arms. This year is no exception. I’m about to sign off and head to a Christmas Eve dinner. And tomorrow, we are visiting another home for Christmas.
It doesn’t really matter how you celebrate, or what you celebrate. Because it’s all beautiful in its tradition, faith, and sincerity.
What matters is the way you treat others, and how you make them feel.
The holidays are tough for many. And a lot of people, for one reason or another, can’t be with loved ones during this time.
It’s my hope that we are all inclusive and welcoming to others, regardless of race, religion, or nationality. Be welcoming to strangers. Give a smile to someone who looks like they might be having a hard time.
Kindness is the best gift you can give, and it’s free.
This Christmas in Mexico, I’m so grateful that yet again, we’ve been welcomed with open arms. And even though we can’t be with family, we’ve found a little family of our own while here.