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What is Some Traditional Mexican Food for Christmas?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Some of the Mexican Christmas food choices are favorites at any time of the year, while others are identified as traditional Christmas food that is rarely, if ever, served during the rest of the year. People who eat traditional Mexican food for Christmas may enjoy tamales, buñuelos, bacalao a la vizcaina, romeritos and rosca de Reyes.

Rather than the observance of one or two days, the traditional Mexican approach to Christmas involves almost three weeks of community and family events. Kicking off the celebration is the observance of posadas. Essentially, posadas honors the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem and their search for lodgings. Each evening of the observance, neighborhood residents make their way to a designated home, where they seek food and hospitality. There is singing, readings and celebration. A piñata, filled with Christmas sweets, is broken, and everyone enjoys tamales, sweet fritters called buñuelos, and a hot chocolate drink that is called chocolate caliente. For adults who want something with a little more kick, there is ponche con piquete, a hot punch this is made of blends of seasonal fruits and a shot of wine or spirits, served with a cinnamon stick.

A traditional Mexican food for Christmas Eve is a dish known as bacalao a la vizcaina. This colorful and eclectic dish includes salted cod that has been dried, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, olives, capers and bright red bell peppers. Often served with a selection of fruits and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, the dish is usually made in large quantities. This is because families tend to open their doors to others on Christmas Eve, especially those with no family in the area. With a focus on being together and celebrating the birth of Jesus, hospitality dictates that there be plenty to eat and drink.

For Christmas Day, romeritos are not uncommon. They are composed of such ingredients as dried shrimp and potatoes, and colorful red, yellow, and green bell peppers may be added to the mixture if desired. The ingredients are seasoned with a spice that is also called romerito, which is somewhat similar to rosemary. The mixture is cooked in what is known as mole sauce, which is made with garlic, onions, chocolate, sugar, nuts, chili peppers, olive oil, and small amounts of toasted bread. Dishes as shrimp croquettes may also be served, with the mole sauce used as an accompaniment. Traditional Mexican foods tend to rely heavily on what is readily available, and often makes use of combinations that may seem unusual to persons from other culture.

At the end of the Christmas season on 6 January, a traditional food that's often served is the sweet dish of rosca de Reyes. Essentially a bread that is shaped into the form of a Christmas wreath, it's often sweetened with spices, and includes small figurines of Jesus baked into the loaf. Usually, there is a glaze or sauce that is added to the top of the bread. Rosca de Reyes is only made during the first days of January and is considered to be a final offering to the Christ child during the season.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including DelightedCooking, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon233501 — On Dec 07, 2011

I'm doing a school report and this was very helpful.

By Pimiento — On Sep 26, 2010

@ellaesans - I think you really have to think about the Mexican culture - or any culture for that matter. We do not all conform to the same code of dress or believe in the same religion, that's why there is a diverse population throughout the world and that's what makes this world so great - no one person is the same. I sometimes think that people who conform to traditions such as Christmas decorations are really only cheating themselves out of trying something new.

By ellaesans — On Sep 26, 2010

@turtlez - I'm not a non-traditionalist and I just don't understand how anyone could go with a more traditional Christmas recipe. The food of this season really speaks to people, but I suppose I can understand how people in other cultures have different traditional recipes that might seem strange to us and "normal" to them.

By turtlez — On Sep 26, 2010

Mexican Christmas food is a great way to break the mold if you are a non-traditional type of person. My family and I like to do things different every year. Last year we made Fettuccine as a side dish instead of the more traditional stuffing and such. We also had people bring their own food to cut down on over working the oven.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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