Welcome to Mexico!
By Victoria Schmidt
Christmas in Mexico
Mexicans love to celebrate. Their fiestas start early, run late, are filled with lots of food, fun and music and usually fireworks! Like every other Holiday in Mexico, I have found that Mexicans make the most of Christmas. Here in Mexico, Christmas isn’t about marathon shopping, Black Friday, standing in long lines, and trying to out-decorate your neighbors’ house.
My Christmas’ in Minnesota were set in white blankets of snow, and decorative lights and people running around in a frenzy of Holiday parties and shopping sprees. There was constant activity. But somehow the spirit and meaning of the Holidays seemed to get mixed up with the hype. The US economic bottom line depends heavily on Christmas. The sales between Black Friday and Christmas make or break retailers.
I once told you of our last Christmas in the USA. My husband ran out to pick up a last minute stocking stuffer for our son. It was snowing, and on his way out of the store, he slipped, fell on his back and got the wind knocked out of him. He lay in the drive trying to catch his breath. No one came to his aid. Instead, cars were honking at him for blocking the driveway. Yep, that is Christmas spirit for you. He’s experienced falls here in Mexico, and people come running to help. It may seem like a small difference, but to me it speaks volumes. The people here care about the well being of others. Even complete strangers.
There is no snow here, that made it difficult for me to get into the “Christmas mood.” The decorations seem simple and meaningful not commercial. The posadas remind of us the story of Christmas. My favorite posada was put on by the children of The Little Blue School. This is a school in Chapala for children who have disabilities. There was a variation of the Christmas story not in my Methodist upbringing, something about an angel and a devil doing battle. This still requires translation. But the children had such a great time, and I watched the children with tears in my eyes. The children welcomed us with hugs, and escorted us to our seats and waited on us hand and foot. I was a foreigner, yet they treated me as family.
In Mexico businesses don’t take Christmas day and the next day off, or make it a four-day weekend. Here, many businesses close for two weeks so their workers can spend time with their families and extended families. The season goes beyond Christmas and includes Three Kings Day. Still unsure of what Three Kings Day is? Look it up!! But it involves a bread-like cake, and for six years, I’ve managed to avoid getting the piece of the cake that has a baby Jesus. They don’t even allow me to use my gluten problem to avoid the cake… I still have to take a piece and sort through it. OK, some day, I’ll have to provide the tamales for the party in early February that signals the end of the Holiday Season.
I do see the retailers selling Christmas bling here, but I hope that Mexico hangs tight to its culture and traditions and does not “buy” into the Christmas hype that passes for the Christmas holiday in the USA.