Latin Christmas Eve Traditions
Singer, actress, fashion designer, entrepreneur, writer, and mom of two Thalía shares her parenting, lifestyle, fashion, and beauty tips as a POPSUGAR Latina contributor.
5 Warm and Cozy Reasons I Love Celebrating Christmas Eve
I have always loved Christmas Eve because it brings back so many memories! It reminds me of home when my dad was still alive, my mom was always cheery, and when some of my sisters were getting married. I remember when we decorated the Christmas tree together, and our cat wanted to keep us company wherever we were in the house. It was also the time when it started getting a bit cold in Mexico City, and we brought out the warm, cozy clothes. My mom used to knit us the cutest scarves and hats. And the food and its smells were always so amazing! It really is one of my favorite times of the year, but it is also a very emotional and nostalgic time for me. Here are some of the things that are never missing during my Christmas celebrations:
On Christmas Eve, Mexicans make it a point to prepare an assortment of different foods for the family and the friends who may show up. One of those foods that my mother used to prepare, and I still crave, is salted cod. The recipe is a fusion of Mexican and Spanish influences, like many others that were brought over by the Spaniards. Another plate that is delicious and very typical for this time of the year is romeritos. They are small dried shrimp tortitas covered in mole sauce made with ingredients that include potatoes, nopales, almonds, and mulato peppers, infused with romerito sprigs. And we can't forget ponche! It is similar to sangria, but the alcohol is optional and it is served hot. Its ingredients include water, cinnamon sticks, piloncillo (dark brown unrefined cane sugar cubes), guava, and an assortment of other fruits. A perfect drink for chilly holiday nights!
Music is a very important part of life for us Mexicans and Latinos in general, especially during the holidays. It makes us happy and promotes family unity. Villancicos (Christmas carols) and posadas are typical of December. Family and friends get together to sing and bring music and holiday spirit to other members of the community. I remember singing along surrounded by family and lighting up candles to celebrate the true meaning of the season.
Keeping traditions alive helps us keep our memories alive. They are a way of hanging on to memories so you do not forget them over time. Traditions are ways to keep alive those whom we have loved and who gave us life, and those whom we shared wonderful moments with when we were growing up. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to pass on traditions from generation to generation. I find joy in filling my children's eyes, ears, and mouths with the colors of the holiday season, the beautiful Mexican Christmas carols that I used to sing, and the traditional flavors of the food I used to eat when I was a child.
I like to spend Christmas in warm weather. It seems typical for many people to spend it in a snowy, cold place, but not for me. I enjoy sunny days and balmy nights during the holidays. That is what we have done for the past several years.
Traditions also promote family unity, and we should strive to also create new traditions within the family. In my case, we have made a tradition out of our different traditions. Since my husband grew up in an Italian family, he brought his own Italian traditions to our family, and I brought mine. So, we have created our own traditions from the fusion of those two cultures and those of the country we live in. My children are Italo-Mexican-Americans, and it is a lot of fun to have them experience a multicultural Christmas in which we listen to music from Frank Sinatra, Pedro Infante, and mariachis and eat pasta fra diavolo and Italian-style lobsters, as well as Mexican plates. We still honor our family traditions, but we have found a way of mixing them up in order to create our own, unique spin.
The holiday season is an intimate time for many, filled with a lot of memories that move our emotions and may cause feelings of melancholy and nostalgia, and of sadness when remembering childhood and the way you used to celebrate with your family. I believe that the importance of Christmas relies on looking toward the future with hope. That is why there are presents under the tree, to remind us that life is today, at this moment, and that we have to enjoy it and be happy right now. Yesterday passed, and there is nothing we can do to change it, whilst the future is not here yet. Therefore, may those gifts under the tree make us reflect and make us be present.
It is time to put down our mobile phones, computers, and technology, and share a great meal, interesting conversation, and the smiles that were brought on by our beautiful traditions. Enjoy the holidays thoroughly. Merry Christmas!