The holidays in the Yucatan


As the festive season approaches, here’s a reminder of the many celebrations to be enjoyed in Mexico from December to early January.

It all starts on December 12 with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a religious celebration honoring the Virgin Mary, who is said to have appeared to a Mexican native in 1532.

December 16 marks the start of the posadas (Spanish for “inns”), nine consecutive days of nighttime processions and festivities. Children across the country reenact Mary and Joseph’s quest to find a place to sleep in Bethlehem. Besides their role in religious education, the posadas usually end with a piñata showering the children with candy!

Christmas Eve (la Nochebuena) usually includes a traditional family dinner and midnight mass, after which presents are opened and there are piñatas for the little ones. December 25 is a holiday for many Mexicans, so the Christmas Eve festivities continue into the early morning hours. Even relatively large cities are completely dead on December 25. Santa Claus is not part of Mexican Christmas traditions. Children write their gift lists to the Baby Jesus or the Three Wise Men, who are celebrated on January 6. While both real and artificial Christmas trees are popular, in most Mexican homes, the nativity scene is the main Christmas decoration. These vary in size, and some families decorate an entire room or their front porch so that passers-by can see their creation.

December 28 is the Day of the Holy Innocents, a religious commemoration of the massacre of first-born male babies ordered by King Herod in the New Testament. In Mexico, it's celebrated in quite a unique way. It's like another April Fools’ Day, and people play tricks on each other. One of the most common is to borrow cash or a valuable object from someone. The jokester then has the right to keep what they've taken for a year. The person from whom the object is taken is declared Saint Idiot of the day!

The new year is generally celebrated in the same way as in most countries around the world: families celebrate, concerts are organized in big cities, and the streets are bustling until late at night.