Each year on Christmas Eve,or Nochebuena (the Good Night) in Spanish,Latino families gather to celebrate with a big dinner,often including music and gifts. While specific traditions vary from household to household,the Nochebuena celebration typically begins on Christmas Eve and carries over to Christmas Day in Mexico.
“Alternatively known as Noche Buena,La Cena de Nochebuena or Navidad,‘Nochebuena’ means ‘Good Night’ in Spanish and refers to Christmas Eve,the biggest Christmas fete for most Latinos,” writes International Business Times.
According to the article,Nochebuena dinner often features a pork roast,or lechón as it is known in Spanish,while some families prefer to serve Pavo Trufado de Navidad (Christmas turkey with truffles) and some adult beverages are typically consumed throughout the course of the celebration.
“In Mexico,for example,dinner can include homemade tamales,atole,bacalao (cod) a la Vizcaina,or romeritos en revoltijo (a dish made with Mexican greens) accompanied by buñuelos (small donuts) for dessert and ponche (punch) to toast,” writes the Denver Post.
It’s reportedly also customary for families to put out nativity scenes to celebrate the evening and to help remind family members of the true meaning behind the Christmas Eve celebration. According to My San Antonio,Nochebuena culminates for many families in Mexico at midnight with the opening of presents,followed in many cases by a Misa de Gallo,or midnight mass at the local church.
The Latin Post reports that many mass-goers attend service with the baby Jesus figurine from the family nativity set,which is blessed by the priest Interestingly. Misa de Gallo translates directly to mean “Mass of Rooster” and is a tradition that reportedly came from a rooster who watched and later announced the birth of Baby Jesus to the world and has become a part of the annual traditions in many Mexican households.
Christmas celebrations in Mexico actually begin much earlier than Christmas Eve,starting with the posada on Dec. 16,where children throughout the country take part in processions to re-enact the story of Jesus’ parents Joseph and Mary as they looked for a place to stay in Bethlehem right before his birth. According to tradition,parties are often held directly following the processions,where children take turns trying to knock open piñatas.
Although Christmas Eve,or Nochebuena is not an official federal national holiday in Mexico,many shopping districts are closed or very busy,while major roads and inner-city routes are likely to be held up by extra traffic. If you’re planning to travel anywhere using any type of public transport in Mexico,be sure to call ahead and check with transit authorities to determine if there will be timetable or route changes.
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