Since Mexico is a predominantly Christian country, Christmas stands out as a major religious celebration. Days prior to December 25 also encompass related cultural and social activities.
The historical roots of Navidad festivities were planted by the Franciscan missionaries who put foot on the country’s shores 500 years ago. They introduced pastorelas, posadas and piñatas as methods to evangelize the native populace. These unique national customs have survived to the 21st century. But changing times have brought on changing values and popular conventions, as I have witnessed at lakeside over five decades.
The staging of Pastorela shepherds’ plays are few and far between any more. Posadas now refer to holiday parties held among work companions as much as to the traditional children’s processions recreating the Holy Families troubled trek to Bethlehem. Piñatas shaped as pointed stars symbolizing the seven deadly sins are sold side-by-side with figures of Santa Claus, snowmen and cartoon characters.