Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Around the World South of the Border!

Welcome to Christmas Around the World! In an effort to add some new traditions to our family I thought I might do a little exploring and see how other cultures and nations celebrate Christmas. So strap on your backpacks and let's take a little trip together around the globe!

I thought we would just take a little stretch of our legs today and head south to some warmer climes in Mexico! If you are a little weary of the commercialism and gimmee attitude of "American" Christmas, this might just be the place for you. In my digging I learned that Christmas is treated very religiously in Mexico which makes sense considering the Catholic faith base in the country.

Nine days before Christmas (the 16th) families begin Posadas - mini parades to celebrate the Nativity. Children acting as Mary and Joseph pass through a village and knock on three doors. At the first two they are turned away and told that there is no room. At the third door they are welcomed in and the family and friends gathered join in praying the Rosary together which is followed by a formal meal.

Since opening the borders with NAFTA Mexico has adopted many of the American traditions such as Santa and gifts on Christmas but traditionally the 25th passed without very much ado. Instead families celebrated Dia de los Reyes (Day of the Kings) on January 6th. The children leave their shoes (versus stockings) out for their gifts. Of course there is a family meal like ours but one particular part of the meal is very interesting.

The Rosca del Reyes (described as an oversized egg bread wreath - a big bagel if you will) is shared with the family. If you are familiar with the king cake of Mardis Gras this popped into my head. There is a ceramic Baby Jesus baked into the bread (try to to think too hard about that!) and the person who receives the piece of bread with jesus is named the His godparent. They go about preparing a "christening" of sorts which is celebrated February 2nd at the Day of the Candle. The Day of the Candle is when the Nativity is put away and the "closing ceremony" if you will of the holiday season.

Did you follow all of that? They kick it off on December 16th with Las Posadas and don't wrap up until February 2nd! I don't know about you but that seems like a very long holiday season to me. What I love about the traditions of Mexico is how little they focus on the gifts (traditionally at least!) and how much they focus on the reason behind the season - The birth of the Savior!

If there is one thing I can take from the traditions of Mexico it is to keep the Christ Child at the center of my holiday celebration. Have you ever thought about the traditional arrangement of a Nativity scene? The Wise Men and their gifts are not set up in the middle. Keep that in mind as you head into this holiday season. And may the peace heralded by the star be in your heart all year!


jennifer said...

I imagine you'll find that most cultures around the world put much less emphasis on gifts compared to the US. I'm trying to convince my husband that we don't have to buy all these toys and stuff for the girls, but it's not going so well.

Haasiegirl said...

this is really neat sarah!

Tena said...

Sarah, I think this is a kick ass idea you are doing! I look forward to learning new things about the holidays from around the world