Here in our little part of the world Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve. All the businesses close early and everyone heads home to prepare for the evening. The "Christmas Meal" is started in the morning and the women have been in their kitchens ALL day. When evening arrives in some of the smaller or more rural neighborhoods the last procession of the posada takes place. Around 9pmish the families start to gather at the home of the family head. Mother/Father, Grandparents. There is visiting, drinking eating and the "women" are all putting the finishing touches on dinner. And I'm telling you if you have never seen a kitchen full of Mexican women cooking you have really been deprived. :c) I grew up with an Italian father and have many memories of the aunts, grandmothers, cousins all in the kitchen sure that theirs is the only way to do it properly!! But I'm telling you they don't come close to a Mexican kitchen on Christmas Eve :c) But some how about 10-11 pmish it all comes together and suddenly the tables are groaning with the most delicious food. Just before midnight the family will walk over to the neighborhood church for the Christmas pageant and Midnight mass. Once the Christ child has been born then and only then are the gifts opened. Many families "have their Tree" after mass and others with very small kids or ailing parents will wait until morning to open gifts. There are also many who wait to have their Christmas Supper until after mass. But no matter how they celebrate the focus is always on the family being together not the material things found under the "tree"
Christmas day is a day to relax, eat left overs, and catch up on visiting.
LW put together for you a bit of information on the tradition of The Posada. And we would like to suggest that you add visiting Mexico during Christmas to experience their beautiful traditions to your list of "1000 things to do before I die" :c)
I wish all my friends here in this wonderful little place called Bloglandia a joyous time celebrating your individual beliefs and traditions while creating beautiful memories depending on were in the world you are :c)
The Christmas Posada
In Mexico, Christmas is an important holiday season with strong traditions. One of the most colorful traditions is the posada party, celebrated every evening from December 16 to 24. These celebrations commemorate Mary and Joseph's journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of shelter. "Posada" in Spanish simply means lodging or shelter. These are celebrated differently in the various parts of Mexico, but they all borrow on the following scheme.
Each evening during the nine consecutive days, the holy family's quest for lodging in Bethlehem is reenacted by the local parish. A procession from the local parish is headed by a young Virgen María, sometimes perched on a live burro, led by an equally small San José. They are followed by adults and children of the parish portraying angels, the Santos Reyes (Three Kings), and a host of pastores y pastoras (shepherds and shepherdesses). Depending on the parish, they may be decked out in colorful handmade costumes and carrying brightly decorated báculos (walking staffs) or faroles (paper lanterns).
The parade of Santos Peregrinos (Holy Pilgrims) stops at a designated house to sing a traditional song by which the Holy Family requests shelter for the night. Those waiting behind the closed door turn them away with a few verses of their own. They proceed to a second home where the scene is repeated and they are again refused shelter. At the third stop the pilgrims are told that while there is no room in the posada (inn), but they are welcome to take refuge in the stable. The doors are flung open and all are then invited to enter.
What follows is a party with food and drink for everybody. The high point is the piñata. A piñata is a fragile earthenware jar covered with paper mache, or sometimes only paper mache. It is traditionally made in the shape of a star, to recall the one that guided the Three Kings. Now piñatas come in all shapes and sizes and are filled with candy, toys, and sometimes money. There is always a mad scramble for the shower of fruits, sugar cane, peanuts and candies that are released when the piñata is smashed.
The final posada culminates on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) with the celebration of a late-night Misa de Gallo (Rooster's Mass).