YES – Christmas is most definitely here. The lights of Soho are twinkling, Brewer Street is soaked with the boozy scent of mulled wine, and we’re far enough from the chaos of Oxford Street to feel slightly smug that we’re not being trampled by gift-hungry shoppers.
However, while the entire of December seems like an excuse for Brits to binge-each mince pies, wear novelty jumpers and pop Prosecco at random opportunities, in Mexico it’s a little more structured.
This is because, over in this part of Latin America, Christmas is celebrated from December 16th to Christmas Eve.
During these nine days, children perform Posada processions. The word Posada is Spanish for Inn or Lodging, and there are nine different posadas, one for each day, and they celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Mary and Joseph are looking for somewhere to stay.
On each night, a different house holds the Posada party. Until they reach this house, the children go on a procession throughout the neighbourhood, calling on friends and neighbours and singing to them – the song is basically Mary and Joseph asking for room at the inn. The houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns, while the children hold candles and a board, complete with painted clay figures of Joseph, and Mary riding on a donkey. At each house the procession is told there is no room, until finally they reach the correct house and are welcomed in! What follows is a good old knees up, with singing, food, games, fireworks and a piñata.
Christmas Eve is known as ‘Noche Buena’. At the very final Posada, shepherds and a manger are put on to the board. When the last Posada house has finally been reached, a baby Jesus is put into the manger. Families have a main Christmas meal and then go to Midnight Mass – this is known as ‘Misa de Gallo’ (Mass of the Rooster). Afterwards there are loads of fireworks to see in Christmas Day celebrations!