As you already know as a parent who’s helping your child master Spanish, learning a language isn’t just about memorizing words and phrases. It’s also about gaining an understanding of different cultures.
For those of us in the U.S., Mexico is one of the first places that comes to mind when we think about Spanish-speaking cultures. Mexico isn’t just our geographical neighbor. It is also the culture of origin for most of the Spanish speakers in the U.S.
Mexico boasts many beautiful and meaningful Christmas traditions. Learning about these traditions is a fun and memorable way to give your kids some Spanish language practice.
Holiday Events in Mexican Culture
We think your kids will appreciate that the Christmas season in Mexico brings lots of occasions to celebrate. In fact, holiday season observances stretch from December 12 to February 2. Here are some events you can add to your calendar. Follow the links to learn more about each one.
December 12: Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe
This holiday draws thousands of religious pilgrims to Mexico City. It’s a day for parties and enjoying food like buñuelos (see below for a recipe).
December 16-24: Las Posadas
Nightly processions represent Joseph and Mary’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Family, friends, and neighbors come together for caroling and fellowship. This is also a traditional time for kids to enjoy piñatas.
December 24: Noche Buena
This is the name for Christmas Eve in Mexico. It’s the last night of Las Posadas, and the heart of the Christmas celebration. Poinsettias are a traditional part of this observance. In fact, the Mexican name for the poinsettia is nochebuena.
January 6: Día de Los Reyes
Three Kings’ Day commemorates the Three Wise Men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus. Your kids will likely be thrilled to know this is another occasion they can receive gifts. After opening gifts, it’s time to enjoy rosca de reyes, a ring-shaped sweet bread with figurines hidden inside. (See below for a recipe.) Traditionally, the person who gets the baby Jesus figurine in their slice prepares tamales (recipe below) for Día de la Candelaria.
February 2: Día de la Candelaria
Candlemass marks baby Jesus’ presentation in the temple of Jerusalem and Mary’s ritual purification. In Mexico, the day combines Christian and pre-Columbian traditions.
Christmas Foods from Mexico
Just like in the U.S., food is a big part of the Christmas season in Mexico. Here are a few traditional Christmas foods in Mexico. Click on each link for recipes you can make with your kids.
- Buñuelos are fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar. They’re a beloved part of family celebrations in Mexico and other holiday events.
- Pozole is a pork and hominy stew. It is often served on Christmas Eve in Mexico.
- Tamales are a Christmas essential for Mexicans and Mexican Americans. A party for making tamales is called a tamalada.
- Rosca de Reyes is the traditional festive treat of Dia de Los Reyes.
For a list of kitchen terms you can use while cooking with your kids, check out our article on using Spanish at Thanksgiving.
However you decide to make Spanish a part of the Christmas season with your kids, just remember one thing: As long as you make it fun for them, they’re going to be motivated to learn and increase their fluency!