The Christmas season in Mexico is a time of religious holidays, celebrated in a blend of native and Catholic traditions, particularly in traditional homes and rural areas of Mexico.
The Christmas celebrations begin with Pasadas which are enactments of Mary and Joseph, looking for shelter on their way to Bethlehem. Starting on December 16th and ending December 24th, each family in a neighborhood will schedule a Posada (party) to be held in their home. Each home has a nativity scene and the hosts of the party will play the part of "innkeepers" with party guests playing the part of the pilgrims Mary and Joseph.
The pilgrims (party guests) will all carry small lit candles and carry small statues of Mary and Joesph. The head of the procession of pilgrims will have a lit candle inside a paper shade which is called "Farloito" or little lantern.
The pilgrims will go to three houses requesting lodging. The third house will be the house holding the party and only at this house will they gain entrance. When the guests enter the house, they will kneel and pray the Catholic Rosary and sing traditional songs.
After the prayer is done, there is then a piñata filled with goodies like peanuts, oranges, sugar cane and sometimes wrapped hard candy, that the children will take turns trying to break. The children will be blindfolded and each will take three swings with a stick at the piñata while they recite a chant.
For the adults, there is a hot beverage called "Ponche con Piquette" made of seasonal fruits and cinnamon sticks with a shot of alcoholic spirits.
On Noche Buena, December 24th everyone goes to midnight mass. After mass, families go home and place the baby Jesus in the nativity scene and then they sit down for a meal together.
Traditionally, presents are not exchanged on Christmas Day but in more recent times, and due to influences from outside Mexico, this is changing and gifts are exchanged on this day of the evening before.
Rooster's Mass (Misa de Gallo) is held at midnight on New Years Eve. This is a time for giving thanks for all your blessings.
On January 6th, the Day of the Three Kings, the children receive presents - as it was that the three kings came, bearing gifts, to the baby Jesus. The children place their shoes by a window and they will receive a present in (or next to) their shoes.
In the early evening, a light meal is held consisting of hot chocolate and the Rosca de Reyes (Ring of Kings). Baked into the Rosca de Reyes is a small doll representing the baby Jesus. The person who is served the doll in their rosca will be the Godparent of the baby Jesus and will host the Candelaria party on February 2nd.
On February 2, the Día de la Candelaria, the person who was served the baby Jesus in the Rosca de Reyes will host a party on this day, serving atole and tamales.
Sadly, the holidays are changing in Mexico. The traditional ways of celebrating the Christmas season is disappearing and becoming more and more like the celebrations held in the United States with Santa Claus and presents.
No matter where you live, there's no reason that you can't enjoy a little bit of Mexican old world tradition this Holiday Season. These recipes should help you get into the spirit of a good old fashioned Mexican Christmas.
Ponch con Piquette (Sting Punch)
12 quarts water
10 tejocotes (substitute dried apricots or plums)
6 oz walnuts
5 oranges cut in half and juiced (put both juice and oranges in the punch)
4 sugar canes
10 oz prunes
3 sticks cinnamon
2 lb. sugar
1 quart brandy (optional)
Wash fruit. Cut the sugar cane into strips. Cut guava. Boil everything together, except the sugar.
When cooked add the sugar and the brandy.
Atole (hot drink thickened with corn meal)
1/2 cup Masa Harina
5 cups milk
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or 1 stick cinnamon, finely slivered
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the Masa Harina in a bowl and whisk in the milk, little by little. Pour the milk mixture into a pot and add the brown sugar and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, to keep it from becoming lumpy. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Rosca de Reyes (Ring of Kings)
1 packet dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm milk
3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon aniseed
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup mixed candied fruit (oranges, figs, cherries)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 small baby figurine
Dissolve yeast in the lukewarm milk and let sit five minutes. Add the flour, sugar, eggs, melted butter, salt, cinnamon, aniseed, raisins and vanilla. Combine and knead into a ball.
Grease dough with some butter and set aside to rise in a warm place until the dough doubles in
size, about 2-1/2 hours. Grease a baking sheet.
Punch down the dough and knead until soft and pliable. Now form dough into a ring or "rosca". Insert the baby figurine. Place the dough ring on the baking sheet.
Decorate the top with the candied fruit. Let the dough rise again until doubled.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake 45 minutes or until done.
Enjoy! Don't forget to visit us at www.cook-mexican.com for more traditional Mexican Recipes.
Labels: Ethnic Mexican Recipes, Mexican cooking, Mexican dinner recipes on line, Mexican food, Recipes for Mexican Cultural Foods