In the US, the holiday season is a festive time and is welcomed by many. The christmas trees, ice rinks, hot cocoa and holiday movies are signature icons of this cheerful and happy time.
In Mexico and many Latin American countries, this time of the year is as special and as festive, but in different ways. The nativity scene is a major component to most of their celebrations and festivities. It’s the preparation for Navidad, Christmas Day, that makes it a fun and memorable time.
I grew up celebrating las Posadas and Nochebuena during the holidays. Las Posadas are a reenactment of the pilgrimage of Mary and Joseph searching for a place to sleep every night before the birth of baby Jesus. The celebration starts nine days leading up to Christmas Day which brings family, friends and neighbors together. The tradition of Las Posadas, of course, looks a little different in the United States than in Mexico and the Latin American countries, but the prayers, the caroling, the food and the pinata are present anywhere you celebrate them.
Our family also celebrates Nochebuena also known as Christmas Eve. During Nochebuena a big meal is prepared, music is played and families get together. Some delicious tamales are always prepared and we open presents. At midnight, we attend mass, la Misa de Gallo, to commemorate the birth of baby Jesus.
For me, these traditions that I have been raised with are rich in culture and are cherished memories. I am hopeful that we won’t lose these traditions along the way and my son and his cousins can also make fun childhood memories like I did.
During the holiday season, there are a ton of Christmas books out there to enjoy and read to your young kids. It was a little hard to find books that represent my culture and provide us with a glance of how the holidays are celebrated in Mexico. Here are some of my favorite titles that I wanted to share with you all. These would be great to add to your Christmas book collections.
‘Twas Nochebuena by Roseanne Greenfield Thong
Qué Montón de Tamales by Gary Soto and Ed Martinez
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie DePaola
The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie DePaola
A World of Cookies for Santa by M.E Furman
Nine Days to Christmas: A Story of Mexico by Marie Hall Ets