Mexican Christmas Tradition “Baby Jesus”

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican
Age: 20
Occupation:
Residence: Colorado
Date of Performance/Collection: 4-17-19
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): English

Main Piece: “It is important to note that before I talk about our traditions, Mexico is super Catholic… Way more catholic than United States. One of the most popular traditions that we do on Christmas is everyone has a life size baby Jesus, and every Christmas you are supposed to ‘wake him up’ at midnight… And at midnight, you pick up Baby Jesus, and you rock him and sing songs and everybody kisses him and they sing traditional catholic songs. Then you buy him clothes and have clothes specially made for him, and shoes, and it is expected that you prepare all these things before midnight. There are roles that every person in the family has, and the role of the Godfather is very important. The Godfather has to buy clothes, and make sure that those things are prepared for baby Jesus . The roles can change every three years. Additionally, people would make food for everyone and doors are open to anyone. If they sit down at the table, they can eat. We would make a ton of food, and have candy too so that kids who come to the doors could receive candy. Then on Feb 6. You put baby Jesus back to sleep, with a similar ritual that is big of a deal as Christmas Day.”

 

Background: UV grew up in Mexico, so this was a very important part of his life growing up. As UV mentions in the telling of the traditions they practiced, Mexico is incredibly Catholic and so those aspects of the religion, especially as related to big Catholic holidays, were very important to him and his family. He said that in addition to Mexico being far more Catholic, Mexico is far more community based. The practices they had for their holidays were all about gathering with family, and even bringing anybody in from the community that needed a place to be for the holidays. UV said that these traditions meant a lot to him because they emphasized the cultural importance of family and community, and it was nice for him to be able to create those bonds with everyone.

 

Context of the Performance: UV told me this story while we were hanging out at my apartment and talking about the different traditions and things we would do for our holidays. Because Christmas is his favorite holiday, he was more than happy to tell me about these traditions, and he was equally as happy to hear the differences that occur between Christmas in Mexico, and the Christmas that I celebrate in America.

 

Analysis: I found this Christmas tradition to be very indicative of the the cultural emphasis that Mexico places on both religion and community. This tradition of the baby Jesus perfectly encapsulates both of these in a nice neat bow. The idea that it is the family’s responsibility to ensure that baby Jesus has everything he needs for when he comes into the world is a very familial way to show the importance of religion in Mexico. Additionally, I find this tradition to further emphasize the importance of community and kindness. UV mentions that if anyone came to a house, it was custom to make sure that the guest was fed. They would even leave doors unlocked and in some cases wide open, further encouraging people to join in on the festivities. This is very different from American Christmas, in the sense that America is a bit more tight knit and really only spends the time with close relatives. It is very uncommon for Americans to leave their doors open and just accept anyone and everyone from the community to come in and join them for the festivities. At least from my experience, I have never talked to anyone who does this in their house for Christmas in America, and I certainly have never done it in my household. This difference further accentuates the difference in cultural emphasis on community building, and furthers the divide between community and individualism which is far more apparent in America than Mexico.