Christmas in Mexico doesn’t reflect the romanticism associated with traditional images established on many Christmas cards and movies—with their distinct Dickensian winter feel—but it’s every bit as atmospheric in its own way at Christmas time.
Local Posadas—Christmas parties featuring candlelit processions and piñatas; festivals, special events, art and music, delicious seasonal food and drinks, Christmas carols— villancicos—dancing, and fireworks can be enjoyed this time of year across Mexico.
The Posadas begin on December 16th with the main event and special Christmas meal traditionally taken by most families on Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day. The 25th of December in Mexico is a day for quiet relaxation — ‘the ultimate Sunday’ — as well as being a public holiday.
Many of the events leading-up to Christmas are aligned with certain religious festivals and church services which make them even more meaningful to those who behold Christmas as more than just an indulgent holiday.
In places where it never snows, the back-drop will never meet the ‘snow drops and sleigh bells’ imagery often associated with this time of year, but the underlying feeling of peace and tranquility, and a time for being with those you care about most, is the same in Mexico as everywhere else that Christmas is celebrated.
Frenzied festive shopping trends are now common in Mexico’s big cities at Christmas, so if you plan to ‘whisk across town’ in the capital, be aware that Mexico City’s streets, especially those near and around retail centers, can become virtually grid-locked on the run-up to Christmas Eve as people play-out the infamous ‘last minute rush.’ Christmas in Mexico tends to become more traditional and intimate the further away you are from its big towns and cities.
In modern-day Mexico, gifts are often exchanged on the night of the 24th of December, although traditionally presents in Mexico are exchanged on Kings’ Day—January 6th. This is also the day when the delicious “Rosca de Reyes” (Kings’ Loaf) is served: a doughnut-shaped cake into which a small plastic doll figurine is baked; whoever is served the slice containing the doll does, by tradition, host a party and serves tamales at their home on February 2nd, Dia de la Candelaria, Candlemas.
Christmas is always a busy time to travel, and because of the increased demand, it’s a relatively expensive time of year to fly. If you’re retired or have a flexible schedule, flying before December 15th and delaying your return until after January 6th could save you money in air transportation fees (and you will avoid the crush at the airports). If you’re traveling by bus, note that services become considerably busier during the Christmas holidays and you might consider booking your tickets ahead of time.
People who visit Mexico this time of year enjoy getting away from their usual surroundings and absorbing an alternative Christmas experience: many people who have been to Mexico for Christmas at least once before are drawn back time and again to the special magic that Mexico offers this time of year, and to enjoy the unusual in celebrations that feel quite familiar.
For those who live in Mexico, Christmas remains a special time of year when friends, family, festivals, and local traditions fuse together to create an enjoyable atmosphere that is uniquely Mexican in its approach and style.
Wherever you are this holiday season, we you a very tranquil Christmas filled with joy—and a happy and prosperous New Year!
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