Christmas in Mexico is quite different than in the rest of North America. The Mexican Christmas season is much longer. It begins on December 12th and lasts until January 6th.
Each night, from December 16th until Christmas Eve, Mexicans have "posada" processions to remember the Holy Family’s journey to Bethlehem. They march to friends' and relatives' homes where they enjoy food and fun. For children, the best part of Las Posadas is the piñata party. They take turns trying to break open the special Christmas piñata and then grab all the gifts and treats that spill out.
On the last night of Las Posadas, Christmas Eve, the procession leads to the church, where midnight mass is held. After mass, the church bells ring and fireworks light up the sky.
Many Mexican children receive gifts twice during the Christmas season - once on Christmas Eve from Santa Claus, then again on January 6 from the Three Kings (Reyes Magos).
The Christmas season ends with a big supper on January 6. Families often eat a special cake, Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings' Cake), which has a tiny figure of a baby hidden in it. Whoever finds the figure in their slice is the person who must take it to the church to be blessed.
Although Christmas Trees are becoming more popular in Mexico, the most important Christmas decoration is the nativity scene (nacimiento). Nacimientos are everywhere and usually stay set up until the beginning of February. Also very common are poinsettia flowers, which, according to legend, are the "flowers of the holy night."
As they say in Mexico, "Feliz Navidad!"
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