By Carol Reedy
Mexican holidays are a mix of emotions. Underlying the boisterous parties and celebrations are quieter pursuits: silence, reflection, respect, and prayer.
It all starts December 12 and continues until January 6. In D.F., thousands of brilliant red poinsettias line the streets of Reforma, and decorations adorn every part of the city. Closer to Christmas, nacimientos (manger scenes) find a home on Reforma also.
Trying to conduct business in the capital during this time? Take a pass—it won’t happen. It is also wise to make hotel and restaurant reservations far in advance. There’s something for everyone and, as is the tradition in this great city, many of the events are free of charge to the public.
Following November’s Day of the Dead and Revolution Day activities, on December 12 we celebrate the most famous woman of Mexico, the Virgin of Guadalupe. Everywhere you look in Mexico you’ll see her image, from the facades of buildings to posters, candles, jewelry, clocks, and clothes. A huge mass, attended by people from all over the world, is held at the Basilica, which houses her original image. You will not miss the day…the fireworks will remind you!
Christmas Concert A full orchestra and six choruses interpret traditional carols at the Auditorio Nacional on Reforma on Sunday, Dec 9, at 6 pm. It’s a delightful, festive concert for the whole family and a perfect way to start the holiday season. You can buy tickets at the Auditorio Nacional or through Ticketmaster. 200 to 600 pesos.
The Nutcracker Suite The National Dance Company, along with the Bellas Artes Orchestra, has set aside seven dates to present this perennial favorite at the Auditorio Nacional: Dec 14 (a general rehearsal open to public at 7:30 pm), Dec 15 (at 7:30 pm), Dec 19 (at 7:30 pm), Dec 20 (at 4:30 pm and 7:30 pm), Dec 21 (4:30 pm and 7:30 pm), Dec 22 (at 7:30 pm), Dec 23 (at 4:30 pm and 7:30 pm). Prices range from 180 to 500 pesos. The event lasts two hours. Children from three years of age need a ticket.
At the Zócalo the center of the hustle bustle of the holidays, all eyes are on the huge ice rink that is free to all, including skate rental. In the evenings, shows on ice are presented. Plus, there are toboggan slides and snowman-making workshops for the children. For details, see http://www.cultura.df.gob.mx/.For a fabulous bird’s eye view of this spectacular, enjoy a drink or meal at one of the restaurants in the hotels that overlook the Zócalo: the Majestic, the Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, or the Holiday Inn.
Shopping for gifts
Whether you’re shopping for presents for your family or friends, or for a special treat for you, there are several markets and bazaars that take place during the holidays that should satisfy all your gift needs. All year long, but especially in December, enjoy the Bazaar Sábado (Saturday Bazaar) in San Ángel. Visitors from all over the world come to shop here. See a detailed description of the Bazaar in The Eye December 2011 issue. Here you will find the finest hand-crafted gifts in the country, each a work of art. Outside the Bazaar, easel artists display and sell their creations. The Bazaar is open from 11 am to 7 pm located at Plaza Jacinto, Colonia San Ángel. Metrobus stop is La Bombilla.
On December 1, Christ Church holds its annual Christmas Fair, one of the most popular fairs of the season. Besides handcrafted gifts for all ages, another highlight of the fair is a room filled with used books in good condition for sale. There is also a food court, offering a welcome respite from shopping. In addition, the homemade jams and chutneys make great stocking stuffers. It’s easy to find Christ Church. Hop on the bus on Reforma and get off at Montes Escandinavos walk about a block or so to the corner of Sierra Madre (the address is Montes Escandinavos 405, Colonia Lomas de Chapultepec).
This is the night that Mexican families gather for dinner following the last posada of the season or church services (which take place all over the city). On this night many clubs and restaurants are closed, because this is the night to celebrate at home with your family until the wee hours of Christmas day.
New Years Eve
As of this writing, we don’t have an announcement for the usual free concert taking place at the Monumento del Ángel or the Monumento de Revolución, both conveniently located in centro. Famous Mexican entertainers fill the bill, with fireworks at midnight, of course. The past two years we have enjoyed concerts by Yuri and Joan Sebastian. Of course, the Zócalo will be jam packed with people bringing in the New Year
Three Kings Day (January 6)
This is the main gift-giving day in Mexico. Throughout the city you will find the Three Kings talking to the children, taking their “orders” just as Santa Claus does in the US.
On this day, it is tradition to prepare and eat a rosca de reyes, a wreath-shaped coffee cake made only at this time of year. The rosca contains a small plastic figurine of the baby Jesus. If you are the lucky person to find that figurine in your piece of cake, it is your duty to provide tamales for the breakfast at yet another celebration that takes place on February 2, Día de Candelaria.
If you are a frequent traveler to Mexico, you know that most events are not publicized far in advance. As a result, we can’t include complete information about some other fun and worthwhile activities. So on arrival in D.F., be sure to pick up a copy of Tiempo Libre at any corner kiosk for a complete list of activities. Also check online with Ticketmaster
¡Feliz Navidad Y Prospero Año Nuevo………Disfrutan todo!