Christmas in Puerto Vallarta has a wide variety of traditions and customs, among which can be noted various family parties such as Posadas and Three Kings Day, as well as the typical dishes of tamales and sweets. Puerto Vallarta is highly acclaimed at this time of year with the streets dressed in colors and joy with poinsettias. You want to know more? We tell you the highlights of these dates.
FESTIVAL OF GUADALUPE
Christmas in Puerto Vallarta begins on December 1 with Dia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, or Festival of Guadalupe, and continues through December 12. The holiday is celebrated throughout cities and villages in Mexico, but has a special meaning in Puerto Vallarta where the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe is an iconic landmark for all our visitors.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is commonly known as the Virgin Mary and she is no ordinary being. In 1531 she appeared four times to an indigenous Christian convert, Juan Diego, on Cerro del Tepeyac (Tepeyac Hill). Over the centuries she’s been credited with all manner of miracles and has become Mexico’s patron saint. Little wonder her big day is considered such a big deal.
In Puerto Vallarta, thousands of people will participate in the nightly pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe church in downtown Puerto Vallarta. The streets are filled for twelve nights with music, celebration, and the colors of Mexico as people make their way with gifts for the Lady of Guadalupe altar in the church.
The nightly candlelit pilgrimages are one of the area’s most celebrated traditions during the Christmas season in Puerto Vallarta. The last night of the pilgrimages, December 12, is by far the most crowded and exciting closed by a special service honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe at the church and in the streets. Like any true celebration in Puerto Vallarta, the evening finishes with a firework show over the Bay of Banderas.
The Mexican culture prepares for Christmas nine days before December 24, that is, on December 16. That day, the festivities begin with the first Posada, a celebration with a great religious meaning where entire neighborhoods ‘accompany’, in a procession, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph as they search for an inn in Bethlehem where the baby Jesus can be born. That day, the participants decide how many Posadas they will celebrate this year and where María and José will stay.
The party is celebrated in the streets and in the houses, and people gather to sing and dance as well as to pray litanies on their knees, surrounded by lights and candles that adorn the houses or are shared among those present.
When everyone arrives at the inn, the party begins. In addition, Mexicans feel such devotion for the holiday that even the pre-inns have a party, which take place before and are very similar to the main party.
These celebrations end on December 24, a very familiar day that culminates with a copious Christmas Eve dinner.
In some parts of the world, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the tree, but in Mexico, it’s the nativity scene that is essential. The Nativity is placed in every house on December 16 and remains until February 2, the end of the two month Christmas celebration in Mexico.
The main figures of the Bethlehem are the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, the child Jesus who is placed in the Nativity on December 24 at night and the Magi, whose figures are added on January 5, as well as the animals of the manger, the shepherds and the angel.
On the night of the 24th, many families go to the Misa del Gallo, which is celebrated at midnight and then they open their gifts.
Sometimes, children usually open their gifts on the 25th in the morning, an American cultural influence that has crossed borders, however, Mexico’s traditional day for gifts is January 6, Three Kings Day.
THE FAIRS AND THE ‘POINSETTIAS’
During this time, fairs and craft markets are also abundant, where all kinds of Christmas decorations are sold, such as fruits, Christmas spheres, piñatas, and sweets, among other things.
The traditional red flower that shines throughout Mexico at this time is the ‘poinsettia’, which used to symbolize for the Indians “the new life” that the warriors killed in combat reached, and that later became the ambassador’s favorite flower of the United States in Mexico (Joel Pointsett).
No self-respecting Mexican Christmas forgets the piñata’s moment, which is usually made of clay or cardboard and has a star shape with seven peaks, each of which symbolizes a capital sin.
Inside there are usually sweets, fruits, and other prizes, but to get them you have to hit the piñata with a stick and with your eyes covered with a scarf that represents blind faith.
The one who strikes first has to turn several times to lose the sense of direction while others sing: “Give it, give it, give it, do not lose your sense, because if you lose it, you lose the way. You gave two, you gave three, and your time is over, one, two, three! ”
Once the piñata breaks, everyone enjoys the delicious typical Mexican dishes: tamales, donuts, churros, punch, and hot chocolate.
THREE KINGS DAY
Although Santa Claus has become very popular throughout Latin America in recent years, many children are faithful to the Magi and write letters to them so that on January 6 they can open their most desired toys.
The afternoon of Three Kings Day is celebrated in the family and friends, while the Rosca de Reyes is taken, a bread made of flour, eggs, yeast, sugar, and butter that is decorated with crystallized fruits – baked with quicklime, similar to the candied fruit–
Inside, plastic figurines of the baby Jesus are placed and whoever received the piece of bread with the baby Jesus will have to plan a party on February 2, Candlemas Day, in which the same ones that gathered on Three Kings Day are reunited.
For many Mexicans, the ideal accompaniment to the Rosca de Reyes is hot chocolate, however, it must be made in a clay pot and with a grinder and have a little foam, a sign of quality and flavor.
VISIT PUERTO VALLARTA FOR CHRISTMAS
This could be a great time to experience Christmas in a different culture, and of course have a Christmas day picnic on the beach in a bathing suit and sandals, probably not available in your hometown.
Vacationing in Puerto Vallarta during the holidays is very popular, so it’s important to make plans early to take part in this amazing cultural celebration. If it’s not too late, renting a condo in Puerto Vallarta would make the holidays even more special.