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My Mexican Family’s Nativity Tradition

Nativity in Mexico by mamalatinatips.comI have always been fond of nativities. For me they evoke wonderful childhood memories. For many families, Christmas Day is both the summit and finish of the Christmas season. But for many Mexicans, while it is certainly the pinnacle, it is also just the beginning.

My family kicks off the Christmas season with Las Posadas, starting on December 16th and continuing for 9 days. The nativity is set up at least by the beginning of these, but without baby Jesus or the Three Kings. Then comes Christmas Day, our biggest day of the year.

On Christmas Day, we add baby Jesus to our nativity scene and the Reyes Magos come out, too. I remember placing the Three Kings as far away from the nativity as I could when I was a girl. This made sense to me since they traveled from afar. I would move them closer and closer each day as we got ready for the next big day in our Christmas celebrations, Día de Reyes or Three Kings Day.

My grandparents used to collect us the day after Christmas and take us to most of the churches in town to see every nativity display. There were many different types, large and small, gaudy and elegant, traditional and modern. We usually went at night when the lights were on, which I always enjoyed because of the warm flickering candlelight.

Tres Reyes Magos by mamalatinatips.com

As the Wise Men got closer to our the nativity set each day, the anticipation built inside me for our beautiful, and yummy, Día de Reyes celebration on January 6th. For many Mexican kids, this is the big day, because it’s the day they receive their toys and gifts from the Three Kings. I would always have the Wise Men make their way across the last side table and arrive at the nativity on the 6th, too. My family would always get together again to slice up and enjoy the colorful and delicious, traditional Rosca de Reyes.

But wait there’s more! That is still not the end of the season. When we cut the Rosca de Reyes, there is a small plastic doll baked inside that symbolizes baby Jesus, and the person who finds it is in charge of the Día de la Candelaria celebration on February 2nd.

Rosca de Reyes by Mamalatinatips.com

On Dia de la Candelaria, which is 40 days after Christmas Day, families find padrinos (godparents) for the baby Jesus doll (not the plastic one from the Rosca) who still lay in the nativity manger. They dress him up in beautiful clothes and take him and the rest of the family to the church for a special blessing. Afterward, we get together to enjoy a popular, traditional meal of tamales and atole hosted by the finder of the baby Jesus in the Rosca de Reyes on the 6th of January. This is the day when we finally take our nativities down until next December.

We love our traditions in my family! Setting up the nativity and bringing it down again in February mark the beginning and end of our nearly two month long Christmas season.

 

Photo credit: ©mamalatinatips.com

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Mama Latina Tips for Nativity traditionSilvia cooks yummy Mexican food, plays with her kids, and takes pictures at MamaLatinaTips.com.  Read Silvia’s Disney Adventures in Español at Disneylandiaaldia.com.  Follow her on TwitterPinterestGoogle+Instagram, and Facebook.

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