It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go and we are happy to celebrate it together. We think it will be nice to learn/ remember some of the traditions of Latin Christmas.
To get started with our Christmas traditions lets begin by learning “FELIZ NAVIDAD” which means Merry Christmas and FELIZ AÑO that means Happy new year. Holiday traditions vary by country and region but three things are always present during the holiday, regardless of where you’re from: mouth-watering food, festive music, and good times with family and friends.
Latinos celebrate on Christmas Eve or Nochebuena. Before Navidad, many Catholics from Central America and Mexico, celebrate the nine days leading up to Christmas with posadas, which means “inns”. Posadas are meant to simulate Mary and Joseph’s pilgrimage looking for shelter. People will go from house to house singing carols and inviting those inside to join the procession. The night ends at a host’s home where everyone enjoys a warm drink, food and games. For southern Americans, they called them Novenas, Today, the novena is often a social event where families and friends pray, eat, and sing villancicos (Christmas carols) together.
Christmas Eve is celebrated by staying up until midnight when gifts and presents are opened. Even if The Western idea of Santa Claus (Papa Noel) has gained popularity among Latin America there are some countries where “El Niño Jesus” (baby Jesus) is the one sending the gifts to the well behaved children and in some other countries, gifts are exchanged on Día de Reyes, not Christmas. Dia de Reyes on January 6th tradition, is based on the biblical story of the three kings visiting Jesus after birth and bearing gifts. Instead of leaving milk and cookies for old Saint Nick, kids will leave hay or dry grass for the Wise Men’s camels to eat.
Food plays a crucial roll in every part of the celebration but it is totally different according to each country and/or specific region of the country itself. Latino families hold an array of traditions for this specific period of the year and here are some of them:
- La misa de gallo (Midnight Mass) – This special mass is celebrated at the stroke of midnight and it commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.
- La quema de polvora y luces de navidad (fireworks and sparklers) – Fireworks of every kind are very popular during this time of year.
- Los farolitos y luminarias (festive lanterns) – Many communities celebrate the Day of the Immaculate Conceptionby lighting candles and lanterns. In some countries this special celebration takes place on December 7th. It is also known as El Dia de las Luces (Day of the Lights).
- Los villancicos de navidad (Christmas carols) – Different countries have special folk songs to celebrate Christmas.
- La carta al niño Dios (Christmas letter to Baby Jesus) – Latino children write letters to el niño instead of Santa Claus, even though Santa Claus is growing more and more popular with each generation.
- El nacimiento (The Nativity Scene) – The nativity scene plays a prominent role during Christmas. It is usually placed below the Christmas tree and it can get quite elaborate.
- Decorar con pascuas (decorate with poinsettia flowers) – Natural and artificial poinsettias add the Christmas touch (toque navideño) to homes and offices.
If you are from LatinoAmerica or have Hispanic traditions at home leave us a comment sharing your favorite tradition. Thanks