For many Mexicans, the focus at Christmas time can often be on sharing a meal together on Christmas Eve, Noche Buena, and celebrating the birth of Christ with loved ones by attending mass. However, gift-giving is gradually becoming a more popular concept in Mexico and presents are traditionally exchanged either on the night of Noche Buena, or on January 6th, Twelfth Night. This was when the Three Kings came to Bethlehem to visit the newborn Baby Jesus. On this night, children leave their shoes out by the doors and windows and will wake up to find them filled with presents. If you would like to partake in gift giving in Mexico this Christmas, here are some traditional presents exchanged by Mexicans during the festive season!
The perfect gift for youngsters at Christmas is a typical Mexican toy such as the balero, cup-and-ball or ring and pin as it’s sometimes called, una loteria, a card game similar to bingo, or matatenas, a skillful game often know as jacks in which you throw small stones. Other Mexican children’s toys include cards, dolls, wooden toy trains and traditional items such as yo-yos. A beautiful gift for children in Queretaro is the small rag doll of Amealco with colorful ribbons in her hair. All of these are simple gifts which bring children joy across Mexico.
Celebrating the best of Mexico’s craftsmanship is a great way to give presents at Christmas time. From plates, bowls and vases to jewelry and clothing, there are so many different styles of art and crafts all over Mexico. For some ceramics, look no further than the uniquely colorful talavera pottery of Puebla. Or choose the intricately decorated alebrijes of Oaxaca, mythical animals of all shapes and sizes. Or perhaps the stunning silver jewelry of Taxco! By choosing handicrafts you are supporting local people and the economy of many small communities of Mexico.
Along the same lines as artisanal gifts, a wonderful present this Christmas can be handmade clothing. For example, in the Yucatan Peninsula, for women you can gift a beautifully crafted huipil decorated with flowers of all colors and for the men there are delicately designed guaberas, shirts for all special occasions.
Mexico is famous for its production of Tequila, originating in the state of Guadalajara but there are many other liquors that make great gifts. How about a bottle of Mezcal from Oaxaca, or maybe Pox, a Mayan liquor made from corn and sugar cane. Or for something perhaps a little different, there is the green, herb liquor Garañona, from the Magic Towns of the central State of Mexico. Each liquor has its own place beside Tequila as a great gift for any Posada, a traditional Mexican Christmas party!
Family time is often considered to be more valuable than any gift-giving during the festive season so a lovely option could be to treat loved ones to an experience as opposed to an object. Purchase local theatre, museum or gallery tickets, organize visits to beautiful sites or spend a day at a Pueblo Magico celebrating Mexico’s rich history and culture. Or even better, bring a piñata to a gathering and take part in the most famous Mexican tradition at Christmas!