Christmas in Mexico centers around family and friends in a way that it often doesn’t north of the border.
There are no sleigh rides or cranberry sauce, and Santa Claus is still a relatively foreign concept here, but Mexico has its own important traditions that it celebrates every Christmas.
When Are The Christmas Posadas in Ajijic?
One of these traditions, now 400 years old, is the Christmas Posadas, which happens every evening from December 16-24. They represent the biblical scene when Joseph and Mary seek shelter at the inn in Bethlehem on the eve of Jesus’ birth.
Kids and their parents gather at 5 p.m. in Ajijic’s central plaza and then walk a few blocks to a certain house, which is different each evening.
Another group waits at the house and refuses entry to the approaching procession and for a few minutes, the two groups alternate verses of a song to pedir (ask for) posada. Then the house doors are opened and the hosts give out food, punch, gift bags and other regalitos like balls.
After that, it’s time to bring out the piñatas, usually at least three. More than just a glittery plaything filled with candy, the traditional seven-pointed piñata actually symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and the candy inside represents the temptation against earthly pleasures.
Check out this short video of some kids beating up on poor Santa during a posada in 2018:
La Noche Buena
People do most of the celebrating on Christmas Eve, which is known as la Noche Buena — the Good Night.
A church service happens at 7 p.m. in Church San Andrés, where outside there has been a 30-year-old tradition of living nativity scenes. This tradition recently stopped for a couple years before starting up again, but since then there are only a few nativity scenes each year.
La Noche Buena is an all-night family affair that lasts until 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 in the morning. Some families spend it inside the house; some block the road off in front and set up chairs and tables to eat dinner in the middle of the street.
It’s common to wait until midnight to eat dinner on Christmas Eve, which stems from an old belief that it’s necessary to fast on December 24. (Some restaurants are open for dinner on Christmas Eve but plan ahead as you will need reservations.)
Christmas Eve is a noisy night with music and lots of kids shooting off fireworks. People often make bonfires in the street and sit outside until dawn.
Compared to the day before, Christmas day is relatively low-key. Almost all restaurants and shops are closed on Christmas. If you need some Christmas tacos for dinner, check out Tacos El Cholo, which is always open for dinner on Christmas and Christmas Eve.
Some businesses remain closed from Christmas until as much as a week after New Year’s.
The tradition of gift-giving and Santa Claus is still new here. Gifts are traditionally given to children on Three King’s Day on January 6, but some families will exchange gifts on both holidays.
Last updated September 22, 2019