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While we are waiting until Christmas eve to celebrate, the Mexican families are already having fun!

In Mexico, Christmas celebrations begin the 16th at night, and continue until Christmas eve. It is called the posadas, literally « inn » or « hospitality ».

Friends or neighbours gather in front of the house within which the party is going to take place. They start to sing and ask for shelter for the night to the family that is receiving.  It symbolises Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem. Once the song is finished, all the « pilgrims » go inside and the party can start. Everyone drinks and eats the food the family has prepared. The most traditional beverage is a hot fruit-based beverage called ponche.

Then comes the moment to break the  piñata. Originally, they were made of a clay pot covered with papier-mâché and crepe paper. The most traditional piñata is shaped like a star with 7 points. The points symbolize the  7 deadly sins. But nowadays, you can find piñatas of various sizes, shapes and colours. Each person in turn is blindfolded and tries to break the piñata with a stick. The rest of the people sing a little song during which the participant has to break the piñata; otherwise, the next person is blindfolded. It goes on until the piñata is finally broken. In order to be sure that the blindfolded person will not break the piñata, the other people shout wrong directions to misguide him/her. In a very sadistic version, the piñata is suspended from a rope that can be easily moved. The person in charge of the rope can then lower, raise, push or pull the piñata. It makes the breaking more interesting but a lot more difficult. Once the piñata is broken, all the children rush below it and try to collect the candy that falls out. If there is a second piñata, the same thing starts over.

The next day, the same party starts over in a different home. Quite often, you can see these parties taking place between neighbours of a whole street. Each day, the hosting family is different, but the people invited remain the same.

Moan’Phisémy

If you want to make your own piñata

Learn more about Christmas in Mexico

More about the piñatas and the piñata song

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If you are going to Mexico in the beginning of November and you find yourself in the middle of the Día de los muertos, do not tell the first Mexican you encounter that he/she is late for Halloween!

Don’t be afraid if someone is offering  a sugar skull. This person doesn’t want you dead.

Here are some explanations that may prevent the cultural shock.
The « Day of the Dead » is a tradition more than 3,000 years old. On November 1st and 2nd, the souls of the deceased people come back to earth. This is why  families are having parties in the honour of the departed.

Private altars are built inside the houses and on the graves. Families sing as they go to the cemeteries; they clean and decorate the grave with offerings such as flowers and food: the favourite foods and beverages of the departed,  tequila bottles, cigarettes  (if he/she was a smoker), calaveras  (« skulls » made of sugar or chocolate), pan de muertos (« bread of the dead ») some kind of bun covered with sugar, copal (incense)… In the most traditional region, you will see families dancing, singing and eating next to the grave all night long.

Their way of seeing death is quite different from ours. It is not something frightening you have to fear. On the contrary, the Mexicans make fun of death, they play and live together with death. You will certainly see some Catrinas (elegant skull). They are very popular figures representing a skeleton of an upper class woman. It tells each and every single one of us that were are all equal in front of death.

A documentary about Day of the Dead, in Spanish:

Moan’Phisémy

Learn more about Day of the Dead

More about Day of the Dead

Learn more about La Catrina

Día de los muertos, article in Spanish


septembre 2017
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