Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are, together, celebrated as “Christmas.” This includes a series of events and celebrations that have their origins in the traditional Catholic beliefs. During these days, the main thoroughfares of the city are festooned with decorations associated with these great feasts and festive lights, which make touring the streets and unforgettable event.
In the same vein, the end of the year also is part local and international festivities that are celebrated with great joy and excitement during this month.
As a general rule, the month of December is full of festivities and traditions whose purpose is to ensure that the coming year will be a good one, surrounded by friends, love, luck, and money. Many families round out these rituals with in familiar ways year in and year out. Among the more common traditions carried out in Mexico and Yucatán to usher in 2014 with life-affirming enthusiasm and positive energy include:
The Nativity is attributed to Franciscan friars who introduced it to Mexico during the evangelization of the indigenous peoples. The figurines represent of the arrival of Jesus Christ to the world. The Nativity scene is laid out days before Christmas Eve, and it is then that at midnight on December 24th that the Child Christ is “laid out” in the manger, where he will remain until February 2. It is then that he is “removed,” an event marked by the praying of the rosary and handing out bags filled with candies to children.
This tradition began on New Year’s Eve in 1909 in Spain when the harvest of the grapes was exceptionally bountiful. In an attempt to be rid of the surplus of grapes, it was said that eating one grape for each of the coming months would augur good fortune; the practice spread around the world and continues to this day. At present, the notion is that by eating twelve grapes as bells toll midnight, the New Year will begin with good fortune.
Each of the ornaments associated with the Christmas tree has a meaning that originated in ancient times. Electrical bulbs today replaced the candles which symbolized the light of the world. Traditional horseshoes bring good luck. Pineapples are symbol of immortality. Bells represent the joy of the season. Apples or (red) spheres of Christmas represent abundance. Finally, the star placed atop the tree is a symbol for the Star of Bethlehem.
Mistletoe and Holly
It is said that mistletoe and holly bring luck and fertility; that this is the reason why sprigs of these plants are placed over the frames of the doors and windows. Tradition says that if two people stand under a door on which there is mistletoe or holly they should kiss each other.
Piñatas are another customary part of the Christmas traditions in Mexico and are rich in symbolism. The piñata represents the world with his deceptions and vanities, each one of its seven spikes represents one of the Seven Deadly Sins. When someone is blindfolded, he is said to be following blind faith and the stick with which he strikes the piñata represents the strength of virtue. The candies, fruit, and goodies that spill forth when the piñata is broken open represent the rupture of Sin and the Seduction of worldly goods.