Christmas is one of the most popular holidays around the world, and people in every country have their own way of celebrating it. Despite the dozens of ways people make the holiday their own, there’s one thing every country’s celebrations have in common: food!
Family and friends are a centerpiece in Christmas celebrations worldwide, but each country puts its own spin on what’s on the table. In America, for example, many families choose to have turkey served with plenty of sides, followed by plenty of homemade cookies.
South of the border, things are a little different!
For many Mexican families, Christmas Eve or Noche Buena, as they call it is the day they come together to share a huge feast with their loved ones. Just like in the U.S., turkey, or pavo, is a traditional centerpiece of the big meal. Rather than gravy, it’s often served with mole, a traditional spicy, chocolate-based sauce.
Some families even choose to have soup served as their main course. One option is a stew based on bacalao, a type of salted codfish. Another common selection is pozole. Every family has their own special recipe for this delicious comfort food. However, they always have a few ingredients in common: meat, hominy, and a delicious broth base made with red or green chile peppers.
Americans might be more familiar with another traditional Mexican Christmas dish: tamales! Tamales are made by putting seasoned meat onto a base of masa, a type of corn dough, and then rolling them up to resemble a small burrito. Then, the tamales are wrapped in corn husks and boiled or steamed.
Tamale-making is a family tradition. Families gather together in the kitchen for a party called a tamalada and spend the whole day working side by side to make enough tamales for Christmas celebrations. This tradition dates back to centuries to early Mesoamerican civilizations and has been passed down from generation to generation as a way to keep a special part of traditional Mexican culture alive.
Of course, a Christmas feast isn’t complete without plenty of delicious desserts! Buñuelos are a common treat loved by children. Buñuelos are a simple type of flour-based fritter coated in cinnamon sugar or drizzled with syrup. They are especially good when eaten piping hot and fresh from the frying pan!
Another popular dessert is served later in the Christmas season on January 6th, also known as Twelfth Night in English-speaking countries. To Mexicans, this day is Día de Los Reyes, or Three Kings’ Day, when they celebrate the visit of the three wise men to the newly-born Jesus. Mexican families serve Rosca de Reyes, a sweet bread flavored with citrus and decorated with a variety of candied fruits.
Whether you choose to serve tamales or turkey, Christmas is a time to celebrate with your family and friends and gather together around a table piled high with delicious homemade food, no matter where in the world you live. ¡Feliz Navidad!