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Christmas celebrations in Mexico 100 years ago and today

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Gene Autry, cowboy singer/actor, sang a song called, “South of the Border,” way back in 1939 when he stared in a movie with the same title.

The beginning words were:
South of the Border, Down Mexico way
That's where they fell in love
When stars above came out to play
And now as they wander, their thoughts ever stray
South of the border, down Mexico way.

Mexican culture and that of the United States has always been a close one. The Mexicans offered an entirely different culture and background than what did the Europeans brought to this country.

Today the United States has a huge population of immigrants coming across the border from Mexico to America. Laying aside any political connotations, let’s look at how they celebrated Christmas more than 100 years ago and how they continue in their customs today.

In keeping with the series taken from a one hundred year old booklet from the library of John A. Walston in North Carolina, this next one is all about how the folks in Mexico kept Christmas.

To read the introduction and the other articles in this series, please check my Examiner Content page for details and other countries – Denmark, England, Canada, Germany, Holland and Italy. All of these have great messages at the end that applies to Christmas as told in the Bible.

These stories have survived more than 100 years and we can see threads of then and now woven together. You may wish to copy, paste, and print these little stories as a keepsake for future generations.

Christmas in Mexico: As written in this little booklet called, “Christmas Around the World.”

“Where the northern peoples revolved their Christmas decorations around the Yule Fir and Evergreen, so the southern celebrants surround their symbols with beautiful flowers. Mexico is particularly favored in having the beautiful white lily and Spanish moss as forms of decoration through which can be displayed all the color of that most colorful land.

The beautifully ornamented altars are carved or painted with representations of the Nativity; represented also in tapestry form or carried as banners. Over all this festive display hang brightly colored paper lanterns and other forms of illumination.

The Mexican “Posada” or “Resting Place” is the center of the centuries old desire to perpetuate the journey and hardships of the Holy Family on that first Christmas Eve, and takes the form of an elaborate play in the tradition of the Mummers and Miracle Players of the Old World. This is followed by the characteristic jollity and music of the people.

Christmas Day is ushered in with the Midnight Mass of great beauty, music and flowers. The children’s joy is to be found in the “Pinata,” a lightly made earthen jar shaped with bright paper and tinsel to resemble faces, animals, toreadors, etc., and filled with good things, gifts and toys.

The jar is swung at with a stout stick by the children, who are blindfolded; the ensuing scramble for the spilled contents when a hit is made is better imagined than described.” ~~~~~

The beautiful flower of Christmas, the Poinsettia, (Euphorbia pulcherrima or noche Buena) first originated in Mexico.

The plant was named Poinsettia, after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first USA Minister to Mexico. He introduced the plant into the US in 1825.

Today in the United States, this “Christmas flower” is widely used at Christmas time because of it beautiful red and green color. And, it is mostly used… at this time of the year.

However, a poinsettia plant can live for a long time with the right care. Keep your plant in a light area and water this plant only when the soil feels dry. You may wish to check here to find out how to care for your poinsettias.

For a short history of the poinsettia, you might find this site interesting.

Christmas in Mexico today:

“Today Christmas in Mexico is celebrated during a season that begins in early December to January 6, with one other related event on February 2.

During this entire time, one can see nativity scenes, poinsettias and even Christmas trees.

The season begin with celebrations related to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexico, followed by traditions such as Las Posadas, pastorelas, (plays), a mass and feast on Christmas Eve, the arrival of the Three Wise Men on January 6 ending with Candlemas (celebration of Jesus as the light of the world), and the presentation of Child Jesus images at churches. http://www.inside-mexico.com/pastorelas.htm http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/candlemass.html

These traditions are a mixture of remnants from the pre Hispanic period, Spanish traditions, traditions created during Mexico’s colonial period and later adaptations from German and U.S. Christmas traditions.”

For more information check this source on Wikipedia

The mention of the white lily used as decorations in Mexico caused me to reflect on what God’s Word says about the lily and Christ. Christ is referred to as being the “Lily of the valley.”

Many times in the Old Testament we can see “types of Christ” represented in a foretelling way to describe the Messiah the world long awaited for.

“The Bible mentions lilies 15 times in 15 different verses. Of these 15 mentions, 8 of them occur in the Song of Solomon. Because of the characteristics of the lily, it is often equated with the character of Jesus.

In these verses, we see several things about the lilies of the Bible. They grow in the valleys and in the field. They may even grow among thorns. Sometimes, they are cultivated to grow in planted gardens. In speaking of God's blessing on Israel, Hosea states that "He shall grow as the lily." This indicates that the lily grows rapidly and commonly in many places.

A lily is white and very beautiful; exceeding all other flowers for whiteness. Within it are seven grains or seeds that are the color of gold. White is a picture of purity (Revelation 3:4

The bride of the Lamb will be clothed in white (Revelation 19:8)

What better representation of the purity of Jesus Christ, the one "who knew no sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21) who "did no sin" (1 Peter 2:22 who was tempted "yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15) and who "in him is no sin" (1 John 3:5 than a beautiful white lily?

"For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" (Hebrews 7:26)

A lily is very fruitful. One root may put forth fifty bulbs. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He brings forth much fruit (John 12:24 ). It is by bearing much fruit that He glorified the Father (John 15:8). “ Source:

As we celebrate this Christmas season and the birth of Christ with gifts as did the Wisemen, and with songs and praise as did the shepherds, and with many ways and customs, we must remember His glory was not in being born; but in His teachings and death.

One of the most loving and encouraging scriptures in all of the Bible is found in Matthew 6:25-34. Many of us are so anxious during this time of the year – trying to do so much, trying to be in so many places and trying to please so many people that we find ourselves exhausted and worn out.

This beautiful scripture in Matthew should be a lesson for us all in what we have made of Christmas – not so much a Holy Day but more of a frenzy day of commercialisms and materialism.

Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body more than the raiment?

Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they?

And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life?

And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? Or, what shall we drink? Or, wherewithal shall we be clothed?

For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

This will be the last in this series. May you have a blessed Christmas celebration of your own as you and your family creates your own Christmas customs and traditions.

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