in Mexico it's the night before Dec 12th! or Jan 6th

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Escrito por Laura desde ( el día miércoles, 27 de octubre, 2004 a las 14:53:39 horas :

En respuesta a: Night Before Christmas escrito por Jan desde ( el día miércoles, 27 de octubre, 2004 a las 09:49:20 horas :

H Jan,

That's an interesting question which I can't resist replying to with some commentary about the differences in the traditions around the holiday season between Mexico and the US and other Northern European influenced cultures.

If this classic story is difficult to find in Spanish it could be because the 'Night before Christmas' and Santa Claus are not dominant elements in the traditional Christmas time celebrations. Here are some differences:

Around here and in most of Mexico, the big deal for the holiday celebrations is actually on the 12 of December... the birthday of La Virgin de Guadalupe(a Matriarchial focus perhaps?).

Beginning on the evening of the 11th, are wonderful processions, singing and dancing going on all night to bring in her birthday with a serenade at midnight or dawn, singing the traditional Mexican birthday song... "Las mañanitas".

In La Barra, everyone decorates their houses weeks before with an altar on the street adorned with lots of colorful lights, crepe paper danglies... shiny things etc. It's beautiful! Come see it! This is my favorite time of year by far.

Then begin the 'Posadas' ... again with a focus on the Virgin. This time, she's looking for room at the Inn in time to give birth. The Posadas are a fun tradition especially for the kids who get to party every night for 12 nights ending on the it is... Night before the actual birth... Christmas! The last posada ends in the biggist party... usually family oriented - each family having a dinner going all night long (for those who can stay up.

These celibrations are about reenactments and spiritual traditions... food and family and community celebration and NOT anything about gift giving. The tradition of Santa Claus coming in the night before the 25th and leaving gifts - the central plot of "The Night before Christmas" - is not appropriately placed on Dec 24 in Mexico.

But a version of the concept can be seen in the celebration of Three Kings Day on Jan 6. This is the journey of the Three kings to visit the Christ Child... they leave gifts!

So on the night of Jan 5 gifts appear for the children who waken to find them.. left for them personally by the Three Kings! The tradition around here is one gift for each child. Adults don't get gifts. (Personally, I find it a great relief from the unbelievable out of control consumerism that has come to tarnish the wonderful practice of gift giving in the States (IMHO).

In La Barra, through the Children's Library, we collect donations to help us purchase one gift for each child... to leave for them in the night so that for them, it comes from the Three Kings... )or at leaset, for the more savvy chldren - from their parents... or for the even more savvy, from their Children's Library but in the cherished tradition of the day of the Three Kings. We began this because with the scarcityof cash, quite a few children were without anything left for them by the Three Kings.

We decided to make it -parejo- even...for all the children because 1. it's the way to avoid singling out kids for the 'wrong side of the tracks'. And besides, 2. you never know who can and who cannot manage the purchase this year.

We invite your help as it costs us around $150 usd to purchase these gifts. We give equal value gifts for each child of La Barra which we purchase from a relative of a resident of La Barra who brings them in from Mexico City for this purpose. Parents and neighbors help with the distribution after midnight on Jan 5 when all the children are asleep. You should see the happy faces of all the children on the morning of Jan 6.

(A note with all due respect... If you show up and distribute gifts on Dec 24th... local children only think Gringos must be a little nuts and have endless money to be giving away. SOme art of their human brain thinks..."What a combination... go for it while you can.... grab what you can! This is a far cry from the character building aspects of our age-old traditions... each tradition having it's place -where it is supported with the whole infrastructure of wisdom that goes with it in it's own cultural context.)

Contact me for more information about our Three Kings Day Festivities! Many thanks.
Hasta pronto,

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