"Christmas Around the World" logoNovember 2003-January 2004
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Mexican flag Feliz Navidad
Mexican tree
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Christmas in Mexico is first and foremost a religious holiday--the feast of the Nativity. It is a time when social life is happily blended with the religious observance. The traditional holiday begins on December 16 with the first in a series of nine posadas, processions depicting the journey of Mary and Joseph and their quest to find an inn for the night. These parades can lead to a private home or some central location where the celebration usually ends with the breaking of a pinata, commonly a decorated clay pot filled with candies or other small treasures. Children are blindfolded and they take turns swinging at the pinata with a stick until it finally breaks and the contents spill out to be gathered up by the eager participants.

Although Christmas trees are decorated in Mexico, they hold a second place to nativity scenes or nacimientos which are found in most homes. However, Mexican Christmas trees come in amazing varieties. The weather is warm so flowers such as the native poinsettia become appropriate tree decorations, along with smaller pinatas, colorful paper birds and lanterns. A spiky yucca cactus could even be turned into a festive "tree" with the addition of sparkling Christmas ornaments and lights.

On the night of the ninth Posada which is Christmas Eve, there is a special ring shaped cake served - La Rosca de Reyes - inside this cake a small doll representing the Christ Child is baked. Whoever is served this piece must give a party for their friends. Christmas Day is quiet, a large dinner is prepared, and some families exchange gifts. Others may follow the custom of placing shoes on the window sill on the Eve of the Epiphany with their gift exchange taking place on that feast day, January 6th, which is also the official end of the Mexican Christmas fiesta or celebration.