HOLIDAY TRADITIONS IN MEXICO
By Fernando Rodriguez
The Mexican observance and celebration of Christmas in Los Cabos and all over the country, officially begins on December 3, with the start of a nine day novena in honor of the Virgin Mary and the Virgen de Guadalupe (The Novena is a form of worship consisting of special prayers or services on nine successive days). The Mexican celebration of Christmas continues from that early nine days of prayer and service of December 3 through Tuesday December 16. Exactly nine days before December 25, Christmas Day. The second nine days of mini-fiestas are called Las Posadas, which commemorate Joseph and Mary’s pilgrimage to the city of Bethlehem. The nine days also symbolize the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy with her son, Jesus Christ.
The menu at nearly every Latino home during this period will consist of beef, chicken and sweet corn tamales, honey or syrup-soaked sugar fried buñuelos; which are akin to a very thin flour tortilla sized version of sugary sweet french toast. A favorite of everyone, especially the youngsters. Flaky, brown sugarcoated Churros are another sweet mainstay from the fried dough menu during this Christmas week and two days. Most of these tasty treats are accompanied with Mexican hot chocolate, which is made with little brown oval cubes of chocolate, stirred patiently in large metal or clay jugs of milk.
Another delectable dish that is part of the gastronomic landscape of ”Las Poasadas” is pozole (poh-so-leh) which is traditionally served on Christmas Eve in a bowl. Pozole is a hominy based soup that comes with shredded beef, chicken or pork, sprinkled with cabbage strips, onions, red chiles, cilantro and lemon. Thinly sliced radishes and chopped avocados are also part of the yummy ingredients to this very tasty Mexican holiday trademark.
Mexican piñatas are also a joyous, integral part of the nine day celebration. Every kid loves taking their turn swinging a baseball bat or stick while blindfolded to break the candy filled star shaped piñatas, which then causes the mad scramble by small children and parents to recover the candies that fall from its elevated place, swinging above on a rope.
While downtown businesses and homes in Los Cabos do not match the colorful ornaments, and decorative homes with lilies and evergreens, that are visible in cities within the mainland of Mexico, the local community makes every effort to enjoy this special time of Christmas equally.
Catholic Christmas Eve mass of course, is celebrated at midnight, as it is in the South America, Europe, the USA and Spain.
All of these fun, family festivities end on January 6, when everyone gathers together to share what is known as the Rosca de Reyes or ”Ring of the Kings.” The rosca or ”ring”, is an oval shaped sweet bread that contains a few small one inch, white-colored plastic figurines of a baby (Jesus) that symbolizes the epiphany and/or arrival of the Three Kings/Reyes Magos, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, for Christ, the newborn son. The significance of the gold, frankincense and myrrh that the Magi/Three Kings presented to the baby Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew (2:11) is these valuable items were standard gifts to honor a king or deity in the ancient world. Gold as a precious metal, frankincense as perfume or incense, and myrrh as anointing oil. *