Mexican Christmas Traditions > Feliz Navidad

Mexico is a devoutly religious country and almost everyone is Catholic, so Christmas in Mexico has a strong religious flavor to it celebrating the Nativity. Families traditionally celebrate with a Novena, or nine day celebration before the holy night of December 24, Christmas Eve.

Villages and homes both schedule the Novena and reenact the journey of Joseph and Mary when they were looking for lodging while on their way to the Roman census. Re-enactors will sing a simple chant. Every home has a Nativity scene, and home owners play the part of the inn keepers. All of the re-enactors carry small lit candles and usually four teenagers will carry small statures of Mary and Joseph, with Mary riding the donkey. The head of the procession will carry a small lantern made of paper with a candle inside. The enactors will ask for lodging at three houses and only the third will let them in. Then the guests come into the home, kneel before the Nativity scene and sing praises for the Virgin Mary and traditional Christmas songs. Then the home will host a party for the children.

The highlight of the party is the Piñata. A tradition imported from Italy, it is thought of as Mexican and is paper mache or a clay pot decorated with paper, and is filled with hard candy, peanuts sugar cane and fruit. All the children are blindfolded and take a turn at hitting it with a stick until someone breaks it open, then all scramble for the treats inside.

Mexicans exchange gifts but rather than doing it on Christmas, they wait until New Year’s Eve for a celebration called Misa de Gallo, or Rooster’s Mass. Many families go to church early and open gifts at midnight. Others wait until January 6 which is known as the Day of Kings, or Wise Men’s Day, and celebrates the Magi who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. Children traditionally place their shoes near the window so the Magi can fill the shoes with gifts. If the present is bigger than the shoe, it is placed next to the shoe; and many children receive new shoes as Wise Men’s Day gifts. The day also includes a Merienda, kind of a tea time with hot chocolate and La Meridenda, an evening meal of celebration.

Another Mexican tradition is the Rosca de Reys, a big oval shaped wreath made of a special egg bread filled with dried fruit and sprinkled sugar decorations and a small ceramic doll inside. The doll represents the baby Jesus and whoever gets the doll is the Godparent of the baby Jesus in a celebration called Candelaria on February 2.

As Christmas is celebrated throughout all of Mexico, government offices will be closed for two weeks for all of the celebrations. In recent years many Mexicans, especially the most affluent, have adopted Santa Claus and many American traditions, but even then the flavor remains distinctly Mexican. As the land of the Piñata accepts the Christmas Tree, Christmas traditions melding show the true Spirit of Christmas, with nation’s coming together in peace.

3 Responses to “Mexican Christmas Traditions > Feliz Navidad”

  1. Jordan


    im doing a project on the mexican traditions (feliz navidad) for school, and your site helped me so much with it. Thank you so much! You guys rocks!


  2. anna martinez

    you guys need to put something about the laventamiento. And that woud help me even more.

  3. anna martinez

    you guys should put more about the laventamiento. But over all it was alright. Asta luigo persona you voy a festhar mi navidad.