In keeping with our country focus this month, we look at Christmas traditions in a few countries around the continent. The following information was culled from various sources.

Christmas celebration in South America offers local tradition. NOW!JAKARTA

The Mexican celebration of Christmas is called las posadas and begins on December 16. The ninth evening of las posadas is Buena Noche, Christmas Eve. Families begin the nine-day observance of las posadas by re-enacting the Holy Family's nine-day journey to Bethlehem and their search for shelter in a posada, or inn.

For children, the pinata party on the first eight evenings is the best part of las posadas. The pinata is a large clay or papier-mache figure shaped like a star, an animal, or some other object and covered with colourful paper streamers.

Christmas meals include oxtail soup with beans and hot chili, roast turkey and a special salad of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Many children receive gifts on the eve of Twelfth Night, January 5, from the Reyes Magos, the Three Kings who pass through on their way to Bethlehem. At a special Twelfth Night supper on January 6, families and friends enjoy hot chocolate flavoured with vanilla and cinnamon, and a ring-shaped cake. Whoever gets the slice of cake containing a tiny figure of a baby will give a tamale party on February 2, Candlemas Day.

The whole family helps to prepare the tamales, which are a meat or chicken filling wrapped in corn dough. The tamale is then wrapped in corn husks and steamed. A religious service held on Candlemas marks the end of the Christmas season in Mexico.

The Chilean Christmas celebration is a spiritual affair. Church services are held on a daily basis throughout the entire Christmas season but the actual holy observances begin from nine days before Christmas Day, when Chileans begin a special prayer service along with spiritual preparation known as Novena – a Roman Catholic ritual. For the entire nine-day period leading to Christmas, prayers are observed by every pious Christian in the country. Church visits, carol singing and reading of passages from the Bible related to the nativity are part of the tradition here. On Christmas Eve, Catholics attend the Midnight Mass followed by a sumptuous dinner with the extended members of their family. The Christmas Eve dinner traditionally delicacies like Azuela de ave (a special chicken soup), Pan de pasqua (bread stuffed with candied fruit), Rompon and Cola de Mono, or “Monkey's Tail” are the customary drinks served on Christmas Eve.

Given that it’s warm at this time of year, many families enjoy a day at the beach or the outdoors.

The traditions of the Brazilian Christmas stem from several other countries, but with particular regard to Portugal, given the country’s colonial history. One such tradition is the Presepio, or a nativity scene. Made from straw, to replicate the bed on which baby Jesus lay in Bethlehem, it is most popular in the northern parts of the country. 

The typical meal of a Brazilian Christmas would include lombo à Califórnia, or pork loin, rabanada or French toast; pernil or roast pork; farofa which is made of raw manioc flour roasted with butter, salt, bacon or smoked meat, and spices with a smoky and slightly salted taste; turkey; Brazil nuts; and panettone. 



This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine December 2018 issue“Festive Issue”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.

NOW! Jakarta

NOW! Jakarta

The article is produced by editorial team of NOW!Jakarta