Christmas is one of the best times to volunteer in Mexico if you want to experience the local culture and immerse yourself in a variety of local traditions.
And, in Mexico, Christmas isn’t a one-time event. It’s a full month of celebrations, marked with family feasts and lots of piñatas.
Starting on 12 December and lasting until 6 January, Christmas celebrations in Mexico have their own flair. There are candle-lit processions, elaborate nativity scenes, Spanish Christmas carols, dancing and fireworks.
While traditions like Christmas trees and Santa Claus have found a place in Mexican festivities, the holiday celebrations are firmly rooted in Spanish and indigenous culture.
A brief history of Christmas in Mexico
When Catholicism arrived in Mexico through colonialism during the sixteenth century, Spanish priests brought with them many Christian holidays, including Christmas.
Over the centuries, these traditions influenced the indigenous culture, creating a Christmas experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
What happens on each day during the Mexican Christmas season?
12 December: Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Dia de la Virgin de Guadalupe)
16-24 December: Las Posadas
24 December: Christmas Eve (Nochebuena)
25 December: Christmas Day (Navidad)
28 December: Day of the Sainted Innocents (Dia de los Santos Inocentes)
6 January: Three Kings Day (Dia de Los Tres Reyes Magos)
Dia de Reyes is Three Kings’ Day, and this is when children in Mexico receive gifts to symbolise those brought by the Three Wise Men.
Families and friends will also share a customary Rosca de Reyes, a sweet bread baked in the shape of a wreath. There are baby Jesus figurines hidden inside the wreath, and whoever finds one is expected to host the Dia de la Candelaria party on 2 February.
Dia de la Candelaria
Dia de la Candelaria marks the end of Mexico’s Christmas celebrations. On this day, local people will take their Christ figurines to church to receive a blessing.
Afterwards, everyone heads to the house of the person who found the baby Jesus inside the Rosca de Reyes for a Mexican-style feast, which often includes tamales.
Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.