Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse…That is unless you are living in Mexico and all the critters are constantly stirring each and every night!
So on this Christmas Eve, I expect you’re all cosy on the sofa in your pyjamas watching a Christmassy movie, cracking into a tin of ‘Quality Street’ hopefully the kids are bathed ready for bed and clean pillowcases are laid out at the bottom of their beds ready for Santa’s visit.
Christmas in the sunshine is great; getting to walk on the beach and to go swimming, having Christmas dinner with Bill, Mel, Dale & Libby will be fabulous but there are a few sad bits that I try not to think about. I will have a teary moment missing friends and family but thanks to the genius who invented Skype we aren’t that far away! This is the first year ever I haven’t sent cards, bought presents and have totally missed doing all the party rounds and if I’m telling the truth – it’s utterly liberating! Not being in the UK most of all – I would bloody love a mince pie!
However there are some lovely family traditions in Mexico that really make me smile with the true values of Christmas.
Poinsettia plants are native to Mexico, Mr Poinsett an American Ambassador exported the plants back to his home in 1825 these cheery plants were then cultivated and have become popular around the world as part of Christmas decorations. The legend is that a poor young Mexican girl was sad she had no gifts to take to the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve mass, so she collected some weeds from the roadside in the hope that even the smallest gift from someone who loved him would make Jesus happy. When she went to place the plant at the nativity scene the green leaves had turned to a beautiful red for a Christmas miracle of love. The plants then became known as the Flower of the Holy Night or ‘Flor de Noche Buena’ which in Spanish means a good night. Poinsettias are placed to welcome at the entrance to houses and they will surround the nativity scenes.
The shape of the petals is also thought to represent the Star guiding the wise men to Bethlehem.
For eight nights up to Christmas Eve traditional ‘Posadas’ are celebrated. Each night there will be a different family host in a neighbourhood to represent the inns that had no room for Mary and Joseph. Children will dress and be assigned duties as wise men or angels. The posada is sung relaying the events of the refusal and request for shelter. Then the door is opened and the host will have prepared gifts of fruit and sweets. As always in Mexico there will be music, fireworks, laughter and a piñata will be smacked open by the children.
Making a nativity scene is a big deal to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The markets sell wooden stables, moss and flowers to decorate the ‘Nacimiento’. There are all sorts of plastic animals for sale that get added, would elephants and dinosaurs have been present at the birth? Yes of course this is Mexico! Quite often there is a mismatch of figurine sizes. I quite like the way that baby Jesus is sometimes 10xs larger than Mary – tough night for Virgin lady!
The tradition is for the nativity to be placed outside the house with an empty crib in expectation of birth of Jesus. The baby Jesus doll is then taken to Christmas Eve mass in the culmination of the Posadas to be blessed only then is he placed into the nativity scene. Watching the little chica’s cradling the Jesus, stroking his head and singing him to sleep is so beautiful and those that know me – yes, I cry every time! Families then gather for the main Buena Noche dinner and fiesta!
So from Brad and me, we would like to wish you all much love and a very Happy Christmas Day, Feliz Navidad xx