Posted by: lianadevine | 28 December 2007

Christmas Comes to Mexico

Apart from the religious celebration of the birth of Jesus, Mexicans recognize the miraculous appearance of the Virgen de Guadalupe on December 12th. We witnessed some of the processions of the pilgrims on bicycles and on foot around Cholula, and saw the preparations for the pilgrims in Coatepec, but did not see or partake in any of the actual events of the Day. But poco a poco we were drawn into the swing of things for Christmas.

In Canada, we were accustomed to seeing the beginnings of the Christmas Season before the Hallowe’en treats are cleared out of the stores. As we travelled through Mexico it was apparent that our notions of Christmas festivities and our NorteAmericano values had made their way south, before we had even arrived.

Like our tour of Costco in Xalapa, we found experiencing Christmas in Mexico the same, only different. It seemed somewhat surreal to see winter and Christmas motifs in 30C heat. To hear “It’s Lovely Weather for a Sleighride Together with You” while we wore shorts and t-shirts bordered on ridiculous. “Santa Claus llegó a la ciudad” (literally translated: Santa Claus arrived in the city) took on a whole new twist sung in Spanish. Decorations of every description were available in all the stores and all the vendor stalls, and TV commercials urged people to come to WalMart “for all your wishes”.

But we heard the familiar strains of “Jingle Bells” – with a Spanish accent – as an English class in Atlixco practiced with their Mexican teacher. We saw the Nativity story re-enacted by kindergarteners in Palenque, outside, under a starry sky. And the Christmas spirit of giving was alive and well throughout the nation when over 439 million pesos were collected during a two-day telethon, raising money for special needs kids.

Here in Bacalar, I worked up a sweat helping Socorro decorate her Christmas tree, on her shaded patio in 37C heat. Later that week, I accompanied her to her posada, sponsored by the state government for whom she works, and finally found out what the fuss was all about. Calvin noted that wandering the plaza at the Palacio Municipal to see the Christmas lights at night, dressed in shorts and sandals, beat trudging through snow at the Wildlife Park at home. I taught Melissa and Cori to make shortbread cookies the way my Mom used to let us kids do them, a mano.

Shoppers galore filled the stores in the Free Zone at the Belizean border, just 20 minutes from Bacalar. Discounts of up to 70% and offers of credit on purchases incited a shopping frenzy, in a store whose airconditioner could not keep up with the constant opening doors and multitude of bodies eager to spend, spend, spend their way to Christmas Happiness. As Socorro, Keydi and I joined the procession of shopping-bag-laden pilgrims making their way on foot back to the Mexican border, I wondered to what “god” we were showing such devotion. Hmmm…

We are not entirely sure what the coming days will bring as we celebrate Christmas with our adopted Mexican family. I anticipate a blend of old and new as our cultures collide, sort of like the stuffed turkey breast with chile sauce that was on my plate at the posada dinner (very yummy, by the way). It will be new, exciting and different for us, and we’ll savour every moment, every flavour, every surprise.

However you spend your Christmas, we wish you the joy of sharing with friends and family and the peace and contentment that comes from a giving heart. We give you this glimpse of Christmas yet to come:



  1. Thank you for lettting us in your great adventure. Claude

  2. Wonderful post, Leanne, and a wonderful slide show with commentary to make readers feel as though they are experiencing everything along with you! Merry Christmas and a muy feliz ano nuevo to you and Calvin and your Mexican friends!

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