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Mexico - Christmas traditions & customs


Several weeks before Christmas, elaborately decorated market stalls or puestos are set up in the plazas of every town and city. Some people travel for days from remote areas to get to these markets. The puestos offer crafts of every conceivable kind, foods such as cheese, bananas, nuts, and cookies, and flowers such as orchids and poinsettias. The poinsettia is native to Mexico and is believed to have first been used in connection with Christmas in the 17th century when Mexican Franciscans included the flowers in their Christmas celebration. There is a legend connected with the flower. A little boy named Pablo was walking to the church in his village to visit the Nativity scene, when he realized he had nothing to offer the Christ Child. He saw some green branches growing along the roadside and gathered them up. Other children scoffed, but when he laid them by the manger, a brilliant red star-shaped flower appeared on each branch.

The main Christmas celebration in Mexico is called las posadas, which refers to processionsHoly family - birth of Jesus reenacting Joseph and Mary's search for a place to stay in Bethlehem. The processions begin nine days before Christmas because the original journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem took nine days. Friends and family members divide themselves into two groups - pilgrims and innkeepers. The pilgrims travel from house to house asking for a shelter and are refused at each until they finally reach the house where an alter and Nativity scene have been set up. Here the pilgrims are admitted with great rejoicing, a traditional prayer is spoken, and the party begins. During Christmas in Mexico food and drink are served and then children take turns trying to break open the pinata.

 
 


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