DECEMBER 12th -A Holy Day in Mexico & Latinamerica which celebrates the VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE. She represents THE VIRGIN MARY and TONANTZIN-the Aztec Goddess of Fertility. The Virgen of Guadalupe is the PATRON SAINT OF MEXICO,and EMPERATRIZ DE LAS AMERICAS" (EMPRESS OF THE AMERICAS). This special day starts with an early mass filled with mariachis and continues all day as pilgrims from all over Mexico arrive at the Church LA BASILICA DE GUADALUPE where the legend states she first appeared to the INDIAN JUAN DIEGO. This day celebrates the Divine Femenine all over Latinamerica.
CHRISTMAS IN MEXICO: -the biggest holiday of the year. While the roots of LAS NAVIDADES are Catholic, the German Traditions of the Christmas Tree, Santa Claus & presents have also been adopted, blending into a magical time of festivities.
In villages & pueblos, LAS POSADAS start 9 days before Christmas Day. They are processions on the street carrying the figures of "Jose & Maria" (Mary & Joseph ) from the church to a neighbor's house, recreating their journey to find shelter to birth El NIņO JESUS (The Baby Jesus) A different neighbor hosts the statues each night and a celebration with tamales, traditional drinks, the breaking of a pinata and the singing of Christmas carols follows. THE POSADAS culminate on DEC 24th NOCHEBUENA / CHRISTMAS EVE where families attend mass and share a traditional dinner and a doll representing the Baby Jesus is placed under the Christmas Tree. Gifts are also opened on the 24th, but the main focus is on family, community, peace & goodwill.
The POINSETTA Flower called NOCHEBUENA is Mexico's contribution to our modern Christmas. An AZTEC Flower CUETLAXOCHITL, it was cultivated by priests for symbolizing "New Life". Poinsettas grow wild in the Mexican states of Chiapas, Oaxaca & Guerrero during November & December. Mr. Joel Poinsett, US embassador to Mexico first brought the seeds to the US in 1828.
The January 6- DIA de REYES -DAY OF THE EPIPHANY/THREE KINGS celebration marks the official end of the Christmas festivities and when all the Christmas decorations are taken down
DIA DE REYES/ DAY OF THE THREE KINGS:
6 de ENERO/ JANUARY 6 -This holy day represents the day the Three Kings arrived at the site of the Baby Jesus' birth, bearing gifts of Gold, Myhrr and Frankincense. Before this day, children in Mexico write letters to the 3 Kings requesting the gifts they would like (though gifts from Santa Claus is now common in Mexico this is a European & American influence, traditionally gifts were given to children on Jan 6th). The letters can be released in a balloon or stuffed in a shoe, next to the shoes kids can also leave gifts like carrots, peanuts or water for the 3 King's camels.
A traditional bread ROSCA DE REYES is eaten. Inside the bread are toy dolls symbolizing the Baby Jesus, the person who gets the doll in their slice of cake gets to host a party on FEBRUARY 2 DIA de la CANDELARIA , on this day the Baby Jesus is dressed and brought to the church to be "presented". After Jan 6th, the Christmas tree and decorations are taken down as this is the official end of NAVIDAD in Mexico.