Celebrating Christmas in Mexico: Traditions, Festivities, and Cultural Highlights

Christmas in Mexico is one of the most awaited seasons by millions of people in this country, but also by those who have migrated to the rest of the world, carrying the traditions and customs of this time of the year.

As aspects of daily life, traditions and customs, Christmas in Mexico has a high content of miscegenation.

There are indigenous and European elements, above all; but also each region has changed, adapted and managed to apply a style of tradition when celebrating Christmas in Mexico.


Although Christmas is celebrated in a very open way throughout the country, each region has its own distinction.

The economic aspect has also had an impact on the celebration, since there are tourist places where the customs have been rescued to give more color to the places and towns.

Perhaps among the most unique aspects of Christmas in Mexico are the posadas and Three Kings Day, as well as the typical dishes such as tamales.

The streets are dressed in color and joy with poinsettia flowers; and in every home there is something that distinguishes the presence of Christmas.

As in many places in Latin America, Christmas begins with a particular celebration.

In the case of Christmas in Mexico, the posadas mark the beginning of the holiday season, which lasts until Three Kings Day.

Historical Background of Christmas in Mexico

Christmas in Mexico starts on December 12th until January 6th, it is a whole season, along with an additional celebration on February 2nd.

As you will notice, it is a religious date, the most important in Mexico, which marks the beginning of the season, the celebration in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Mexican patron saint.

Such is the movement that, to date, the procession of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico is the largest in the world.

The origin of Christmas in Mexico, as in almost all of colonial America, has its origin in European customs.

Although, it can be said that the aborigines had certain celebrations, which were not Christmas, but were appropriated by some peoples of modern Mexico.

Stalls are dedicated to the sale of gifts and decorations, including traditional poinsettias and nativity scenes, as well as Christmas trees, ornaments, electric lights and reindeer figurines.

It is the first big sign that Christmas is approaching, the marketing effect generates an impact on society, both in consumption and in general appearance.

Starting in December, residential areas, houses and buildings are decorated with poinsettias called “Noche Buena” (Christmas Eve).

These flowers, in the pre-Hispanic period were called “Cuetlaxochitl”, and these were highly prized during the winter.

The poinsettias were prized by the Indians because they believed that they were a symbol to the fallen warriors for when they received a new life. They believed that these warriors returned as hummingbirds to drink the nectar of these flowers.

A modern Mexican legend says that the poinsettia was once a plant that miraculously turned into a beautiful flower so that a child could give it to the baby Jesus.

Although it is not common to see nativity scenes, it is more common to see Christmas trees, even in very humble homes. These homes know the value of Christmas in Mexico, because it generates a feeling that evokes the childhood and cherishes the children of the present.

Dates and events of Christmas in Mexico

As we have already mentioned, Christmas in Mexico begins on December 12, but, weeks before, there is a whole movement around these dates.

The impact is so great that it generates an inflationary effect on consumer products and tourist services.

The most important dates of the Christmas season in Mexico are:

Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe:

December 12 is the day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, according to the Catholic Church, the patron saint of Mexico, as well as the Americas.

Since then the Guadalupana tradition is shaped by the miraculous appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe to Juan Diego and the miraculous way she was painted in the ayáte before the bishop fray Juan de Zumárraga, in December of 1531.


In the place of the events, Tepeyac Hill, the Indians already made offerings to a goddess, so it was a pre-Hispanic tradition to visit this area with offerings.

The importance of this festivity is reflected in the musical manifestations of the people, such as corridos, songs and cantares, dedicated to the Virgen Morena del Tepeyac.

16 to December 24: Las Posadas Navideñas in Mexico

Another celebration that is of utmost importance is the Christmas posadas, which have their origin in the Catholic faith.

From December 16 to 24, several processions and festivities are held.

This tradition was initiated by the Spanish evangelists to teach the indigenous people the Christmas story and apparently they also did it to supplant the rituals related to the birth of the god Huitzilopochtli.

The most popular version of the Christmas posadas in Mexico consists of going out for nine nights to a church at dusk.

A girl and a boy are chosen to dress up and play Mary and Joseph, sometimes with Mary riding a donkey.

But, in addition, the use of the piñata in Mexico adds extra festive value, and it becomes the center of the celebration, signifying the end to mortal sins. Then comes something that is never missing at a party in Mexico: food, lots of food.

Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve

The last posada is before nightfall on Christmas Eve, so, it is a long celebration that includes the Misa de Gallo (Midnight Mass).

There are pre-Hispanic elements related to the Aztec deity Huitzilopochtli, such as torches and games, as well as food and dancing.

Dishes include reconstituted dried codfish cooked with onions, tomato sauce, olives and more.

Christmas gifts are opened at midnight.

In the midst of Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, there is April Fool’s Day, December 28, and in some cities there are celebrations, parades and cultural events.

A notable detail is the eating of twelve grapes together with the twelve chimes of the clock at midnight.

Fireworks are common and festivities may include shooting into the air. And of course, then comes more food.

Three Kings Day

The next big event in Christmas in Mexico is Epiphany or also called the Day of the Three Kings.

This day is celebrated when the Three Kings came to visit Baby Jesus with gifts after he was born. On this date, the focus is on children receiving gifts.

Today it is customary to send the note to heaven in a balloon.

In addition to the sweet bread in the shape of a tire that is baked with dried fruits and nuts and in some of these has in its interior tiny images of the baby Jesus: The rosca de reyes.

This donut has a figurine inside, and whoever finds one of these figures in their portion must offer tamales during the Candelaria Festival on February 2.

February 02: Another date for Christmas in Mexico

And on February 2nd, the extended season culminates, as an extra month of festivities, celebrations and reflections of faith.

It commemorates the presentation of the Child Jesus to the temple, on this day people bring an image of the Child Jesus to be blessed.

It is another day with tamales and atole; the Baby Jesus is dressed in private clothes as an offering as a sign of devotion and respect.

Other aspects of Christmas in Mexico

During these dates, millions of people come together to make a huge multicultural celebration, which includes folklore, art and traditions. Thus, we can see in Christmas in Mexico:

Nativity scenes, a representation of the birth of Jesus.

Pastorelas, theatrical representations about faith, tradition and Mexican culture.

Villancicos, part of the Hispanic tradition with songs and poetry.

Christmas trees, are undoubtedly a modern influence, and it is normal to see the streets, squares and homes with a tree, usually an ornate synthetic pine.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *