fiestas, which represent Joseph and Mary's arduous pilgrimage on their way to Bethlehem, and there are nine posadas, from the 16 to the 24 of December, because they symbolize Mary's nine months of pregnancy
LA PIÑATA A tradition that involves breaking a star shaped papier-mâché container full of sweets, Mandarins, and small toys A stick is used, and the piñata is hung on a cord, which in turn is moved around to make it difficult for the person with the stick
You will hear the parents and children singing special Piñata songs including a verse which says: "¡Dale, dale, dale, no pierdas el tino, porque si lo pierdes, pierdes el camino, Una, dos, tres!" ("Strike it, Strike it, Strike it, don't lose your aim, because if you lose it, you won't find your way! One, two, three!" )
PASTORELAS The Pastorelas in Mexico starts as simple parables of the struggle of good against evil. The light, humor-filled pastorelas are reenactments of the shepherds' adoration of the Christ Child
NACIMIENTO Nativity scenes in wood, clay, metal, glass, wax, straw and almost any material you can think of, are another rich expression of popular art
FLOR DE NOCHE BUENA (Poinsettias) native to Mexico In Náhuatl they were called Cuitlaxochitl or star flowers in Spanish they are known as Noche Buena
NOCHE BUENA 24th December Celebration of a late-night Misa de Gallo (Rooster's Mass) Modern influences have introduced the Christmas tree and Santa Claus Opening of gifts Piñatas and luces de Belen (sparklers) Traditional Christmas supper
homemade tamales and atole (corn gruel) or other regional dishes roast turkey or ham or the other popular menu items; as well as Romeritos (a herb) in Mole (a spicy chocolate sauce) with shrimps and potatoes; and Bacalao - cod served a la vizcaina, a Basque dish. The traditional dessert is colación, a mixture of candies in syrup. Ponche (a hot fruit punch), sidra (sparkling cider) or other spirits are served for the holiday brindis (toast).
NAVIDAD (Christmas day) A large reunion Mean meal around three oclock in the afternoon, what it is known as recalentado, because the Christmas meal is reheated from the previous night
DIA DE REYES 6th January Twelfth Night, Epiphany, Three Kings Day, January 6th The tradition in Mexico for Dia de Reyes, Kings Day, is for children to leave their shoes outside the door so they can be filled with gifts from the Magi (Three Kings: Melchior, Gaspar and Baltazar), commemorating the gifts carried by the them to the Christ Child Eating the traditional: Rosca de Reyes
Special bread made for the occasion in the form of a crown, decorated with dried fruits and hiding in its midst one or several little dolls The guest who finds the doll (representing the infant Jesus) in their slice of Rosca give a party on February 2nd, Candelaria, with tamales and atole for all.
los santos inocentes December 28th is a day of practical jokes, similar to what we in the USA celebrate on April Fools Day. Dia de los Santos Inocentes – Day of the Holy Innocents is a religious holiday named in honor of the young children who were slaughtered by order of King Herod around the time of Jesus birth. These young victims werecalled Santos Inocentes or Holy Innocents because they were too young and innocent to have committed any sins. Today most Spanish children play simple pranks like putting salt in the sugar bowl or sticking paper cut-outs on people's backs. These little practical jokes are called Inocentadas. However, unusual celebrations stemming from ancient traditions continue to be held, such as the Flour Battle that takes place in the streets of Ibi, Valencia and theCrazy Peoples Dance in Jalance, also in Valencia.
Puerto Rico Attend a Misa de Aguinaldo From December 15-24, churches conduct misas de aguinaldo, masses held at dawn featuring the singing of aguinaldos, which are Puerto Rican versions of Christmas Carols. Catch a Parranda A parranda is the local translation of carolers, who will travel around the neighborhood singing aguinaldos. Parrandas get going in late November and can still be found in January.
Noche buena Christmas Eve trumps Christmas Day for most Puerto Ricans. This is when a typical Puerto Rican Christmas dinner is served, consisting of lechón (roast pork), pasteles (patties), and arroz con gandules (rice n beans). The traditional Christmas dessert is tembleque, which is a kind of custard with coconut, cornstarch, vanilla, and cinnamon. Instead of eggnog, youll have coquito, or coconut nog. And after dinner, many Puerto Ricans attend a midnight mass known as the Misa de Gallo or Roosters Mass. You might just catch a live reenactment of the nativity scene.
Three Kings Day Collect Grass for the Camels On the night before January 6, Three Kings Day, Puerto Rican children collect grass and place it in a shoebox under their beds for the Three Kings' Camels to eat. (The Kings themselves don't get a plate of cookies or a glass of warm milk.) Celebrate Three Kings Day The grand finale of the season for most of the island is El Día de los Tres Reyes Magos, or "Three Kings Day." This day is marked with a large celebration in San Juan, and children can go to La Fortaleza, the governor's mansion, to receive free gifts.
Eat Your Grapes New Year's Eve in Puerto Rico is appropriately called Año Viejo, or "Old Year," and it's a fun time to be outside; fireworks, honking cars, and the cacophony of celebration can be heard everywhere. At the stroke of midnight, local tradition demands that you eat 12 grapes for luck. You'll also find some people sprinkling sugar outside their house for good luck or throwing a bucket of water out the window to expel all the negatives of the old year and get ready for a fresh start. As for where to be when the clock strikes 12, head to the Puerto Rico Convention Center for the fireworks show.
Cuba Cuba became an atheist nation in 1962, but the Christmas holiday was celebrated until 1969, when Fidel Castro decided that celebrating it was interfering with the sugar harvest. Accordingly, it was dropped from the Cuban calendar of holidays in 1969 as the island strove for a record sugar harvest. Cuban authorities banned the public display of Christmas trees and nativity scenes, other than in places frequented by tourists, such as hotels. But in 1997, President Castro restored the holiday to honor, in the honor of the visit of Pope John Paul II in the island.
Cuba contd With the reinstatement of the X'mas a large Mass is held in Havana's Revolution Square. Thousands of Cubans worship at midnight Masses, as church bells ring out across Havana to mark the moment when Christmas Eve becomes Christmas Day. Cubans celebrate Christmas with there families. Those who can afford it try to make a special meal and decorate their houses, and church-going Christians attend services.
Cuba contd Food-On December 23rd, the pig would be killed and cleaned. That same night, the pig would be marinated and left to soak up all the 'mojo' throughout the night, which would be served on Christmas eve. Along with the pig there are black beans, white rice, yuca con mojo (mojo is a type of marinade with garlic, onions, and sour orange),some salad and of course lots of Cuban bread. In Cuba the kids did not get gifts on Christmas Day as they do in the United States. There is no Santa Claus either. Christmas day is a lot more relaxed. They have more food, with black beans and rice, and the delicious leftovers of the day before. However, on the morning of January 6 th, the Three Kings (los Reyes Magos bring gifts for the children.
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