Holidays in Mexico begin by observing the religious traditions on December 12th and does not finish until February 2nd. Filled with posadas, Noche Buena, Navidad, the Feast of Guadalupe, Dia de los Inocentes, Los Reyes, and Dia de la Calendaria, it is a joyous two months of celebration and cheer. Everywhere you go, the holiday season is marked by robust flavors, colors and aromas. Seasonal food and goods become available, offering fresh experiences even to veteran travelers. Small towns, beach resorts, big cities, and off-the-grid pueblos, almost anywhere you visit in Mexico you are sure to find a fiesta to celebrate the season in a variety of ways. Below are a few that are some of our favorites:
The Feast of Guadalupe
December 12th – Mexico City
Thousands of religious pilgrims and tourists alike descend on the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City to catch a glimpse of the image of La Virgen Morena. Although the Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe is intended to be a religious holiday, the party goes on throughout the night with dancing, parades, and fireworks.
December 12th-21st – Chiapas
This is a special week in Chiapas as the entire state recognizes the Feast of Guadalupe and other celebrations. In San Cristobal de las Casa there is a winter festival complete with an ice-skaing rink in the Zocalo and a procession by the Tzotzil and Tzetzal Indians who come from nearby villages. In Tuxtla Gutierrez, there are special masses and a large pilgrimage followed by Chiapa’s ‘main festival’; one of the most impressive in southern Mexico. In Zincantan, there is music, traditional dancing, and baile del toro de petate.
December 16th-24th – Across the country
Singing processions fill the streets with candles, reenacting Joseph and the Virgin Mary’s journey through Bethlehem in search of shelter. Residents sometimes play the roles of innkeepers and in many places the processions are beautifully detailed with angels and children carrying poinsettias. It is traditional for the entire procession to be preformed through song until reaching the final location to share prayers of thanks before enjoying a marvelous feast. Ajijic, Jalisco; Taxco, Guerrero; and Queretaro, Queretaro have especially moving posadas. Keep in mind that in some places, a Mexican posada can just mean a Christmastime party.
December 23rd – Oaxaca
The first Festival of Radishes happened in 1897 and now happens every year now in honor of that event. During this night local farmers display artistically carved radishes, flowers and totomoxtle. The festival is rooted in an old Oaxacan tradition of holding mass on the 23rd. Gardeners and merchants would sell foods at market that night in anticipation for the Christmas feast and in order to lure more buyers to their stalls, these merchants would create artistic displays of radishes and other vegetables.
December 23rd-24th – Queretaro
Queretaro hosts a huge parade the day before Christmas Eve called ‘Desfile de la Tradicional Cabalgata’ (Traditional Horseride Parade) followed by ‘Desfile de Carro Biblicos’ (Biblical Float Parade) on Christmas Eve. Many people join in attendance as it is a very traditional celebration to Queretaro.
Fiesta de Navidad
December 16-26th – San Miguel de Allende
Anyone who has experienced a San Miguel de Allende Christmas can tell you that it is something truly special. The season starts with traditional posadas that have an open invitation to the community. They incorporate live animals, traditional meals, and classical concerts. During this time, it is not uncommon to see donkeys wandering the town as they deliver firewood to the old colonial mansions. The burning wood is a hearty smell that fills the city with warmth and nostalgia. Following Christmas, there is a Three Kings Market of over 700 vendors selling toys and games on Calzada Guadalupe.
La Casada del Huapango
December 24th-30th – Colatlán, Veracruz
A very-Veracruz tradition, the town joins in the zocalo for Huapango folk dancing accompanied by a jarocho band. The festival is also accompanied with artistic events, other folkloric dances, Voladores de Papantla and a horse spectacular.
December 24th-25th – Quiroga, Michoacan and Tepotzotlan, Mexico State
Pastorelas are nativity plays, recreating the biblical passage where the shepherds follow the Star of Bethlehem to find baby Jesus in his manger. Although pastorelas can be seen throughout Mexico, the ones in Quiroga and Tepotzotlan are said to be extra speical. In Tepotzotlan, although they conserve the traditional format of the play, they excel in the quality and details of the actors with the backdrop of Hostería del Convento – part of the San Franciso Javiar Temple and National Museum of Viceroy. Nativity scenes are also very important in Mexico.
Until January 6th – Atlixco, Puebla
All holiday season the Magical Town of Atlixco in Puebla illuminates in festive lighting. Since 2011, the town has continuously grown and invested in creating a joyous atmosphere that includes a 1 mile (1.5km) pedestrian corridor of colorful Christmas lights, over 3,000 lighted figures, cultural events, and live music. Visitors can enjoy strolls along the illuminated LED paths while warming up with hearty holiday foods and drink such as ponche and hot chocolate.