In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from the December 12th to January 6th. From December 16th to Christmas Eve, children often perform the 'Posada' processions or Posadas. Posada is Spanish for Inn or Lodging. There are nine Posadas. These celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary looked for somewhere to stay. For the Posadas, the outside of houses are decorated with evergreens, moss, and paper lanterns.
One game that is often played at Posada parties is piñata. A piñata is a decorated clay or papier-mâché jar filled with sweets and hung from the ceiling or tree branch. The piñata is often decorated something like a ball with seven peaks around it. The peaks or spikes represent the "seven deadly sins." Piñata's can also be in the form of an animal or bird (such as a donkey). To play the game, children are blind-folded and take it in turns to hit the piñata with a stick until it splits open and the sweets pour out. Then the children rush to pick up as many sweets as they can! Christmas Trees are becoming more popular in Mexico, but the main/most important decoration is still the Nacimiento. Which is the “Nativity Scene.” The largest ever Angel Ornament was made in Mexico. It was made in January 2001 by Sergio Rodriguez in the town of Nuevo León. The angel was 18' 3" high and had wing span of 11' 9"! Perhaps the most amazing thing about the angel was that it was completely made out of old beer bottles, 2,946 of them!
Christmas Eve is known as 'Noche Buena' and is a family day. People often take part in the final Posada and then in the evening have the main Christmas meal. At midnight, many people go to a Midnight Mass service, known as the 'Misa de Gallo' (Mass of the Rooster). There are lots of fireworks to celebrate Christmas Day.
Poinsettia flowers are known as 'nochebuena' (Christmas Eve) flowers in Southern Mexico where they flower in the winter. The poinsettia was made widely known because of a man called Joel Roberts Poinsett. (that's why we call them Poinsettia) He was the first Ambassador from the USA to Mexico in 1825. There is an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettias and Christmas come together, it goes like this: “There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up. 'Pepita', he said "I'm sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus Happy."
Pepita didn't know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle.”From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the "Flores de Noche Buena," or "Flowers of the Holy Night." The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.
In some states in Mexico children expect Santa Claus to come on December 24th. In the south of Mexico children expect presents on January 6th at Epiphany, which is known as 'el Dia de los Reyes'.
On el Dia de los Reyes the presents are left by the Three Kings (or Magi). If you've had a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve, you might also get some candy on el Dia de los Reyes!
Another important day, is Candelaria (also known as Candlemas) on the 2nd February and it marks the end of the Mexican Christmas celebrations. Lots of Mexicans have a party for Candelaria.
In Mexico, presents are given by Santo Clós (Santa Claus). In Mexico people speak Spanish (Español), so Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Feliz Navidad'
After Midnight Mass, families head home for an exotic Christmas feast of dishes like tamales, rice, chiles rellenos, menudo or roast pig or turkey, along with hot fruit or cider punches and other spirits such as rompope. My recipe I am sharing this day is one that I am sure you have heard of, they are called “Mexican Wedding Cookies.” These little balls of sweetness are easy and they are so festive looking on your holiday table. Enjoy!
“Mexican Wedding Cookies”
Yield: Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
2 Sticks of unsalted butter room temp
1/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
2 cups of unbleached flour; plus more for dusting hands
2/3 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar to coat balls
Preheat oven to 350°F degrees and place rack in center of oven. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the remaining flour and salt and beat until combined. Stir in the nuts. Cover and refrigerate the dough for about one hour or until firm. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Form the chilled dough into 1 inch balls and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 12 -15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the 1 cup (120 grams) sifted confectioners sugar in a bowl. Take the still hot cookies and roll them in the sugar, one at a time. Place on a wire rack to cool. Or you can simply place the confectioners sugar in a strainer and sift the sugar over the tops of the cookies. Let them cool completely before storing. Can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks. Can roll or sift the cookies in more confectioners sugar before serving.
**Make sure you return tomorrow for another country (Day 3) and another fabulous recipe…
Till Next Time………………………….
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