Growing up, December 12th in my household was a very important day. I would say that next Christmas, we probably anticipated the arrival of this day the most and inquite a big way. December 12th marks the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, and as a Mexicana from a Catholic family this was a very big deal to me and to those around me. I am hoping that my children will feel the same!
On this day Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated in a very special way, especially in Mexico, but increasingly in the United States too. If you grew up in Mexico or in a Hispanic Catholic family, chances are that you are very familiar with the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
I love Baptisms. They are beautiful celebrations of the entrance of a person, usually a child, into the faith community. Baptisms in my Mexican Catholic family growing up were full of many wonderful memories and traditions. This summer we celebrated our son Anthony’s Baptism and I’m happy that my husband and I are celebrating our children's Baptisms with Mexican traditions.
Recently, I came across an old picture of my younger brother on his Baptism day. He was standing next to the piñata that my parents had bought for the party – it towered over him! Yes, our Baptism parties had piñatas – and lots of family, friends, food and fun. I was quite relieved that my husband, who is not Mexican and did not grow up celebrating Baptisms in such a big way, was on board for large Baptism celebrations. Why the big deal? Well, blame it on tradition. My family is from Mexico, where a Baptism is an important religious event but is also regarded as an opportunity to celebrate with friends and family. Es una fiesta!
How do you have a Mexican Baptism?
The Catholic religious ceremony is the most important aspect of el Bautismo. The child wears a white baptismal garment called a ropon; the white color symbolizes purity in the newly baptized. The baptismal candle symbolizes that the child is now enlightened by Christ. Parents choose the godparents of the child very thoughtfully.
Parents typically will ask a couple (a male and female, but not necessarily a married couple) to be the padrinos. The padrinos and parents of the child call each other compadres, which I would agrue that in Mexico is a very strong, life long bond. My husband and I (center) are pictured above with Anthony's padrinos, Karyme Lozano and Eduardo Verastegui.
In our family, we follow the religious ceremony with a special party, just like in Mexico. We invite our close friends and family for a big meal, complete with a mariachi band. While not as common, it's tradition for the pardrino give a "bolo" after the ceremony. I have seen the pardino throw coins, the "bolo", into the crowd after the religious ceremony, symbolizing the godson´s/goddaughter's prosperity to come.
Decorating for a Baptism
I love using white everywhere, with a splash of color. The hanging flowers are by Martha Stewart and are sold in kits. They are a little time consuming to put together, but are an inexpensive way to make any space look pretty. I hung several of these throughout the backyard. For the centerpieces I borrowed vases from my friend and filled them with flowers from the market. I added the ribbon for an extra touch.
The menu was simple but so good with "the taco" man - a local catering company that will prepare delicious tacos at your event. We also had a margarita machine! But the best part of the food was the dessert! The "sweet table" with cupcakes and other treats turned out so nice! Cupcakes are my indulgence - we got ours from Sweet Arlene's, our favorite place! They have won Cupcake Wars TWICE? They are THAT good :).
I took jars that I already owned and filled them with candy and other treats in the blue, white and brown color scheme. I decorated the containers with coordinating ribbon and labels.
The banner read "God Bless Anthony" and hung over the sweet table. I used blue and white cardstock to make it - it's really easy to put together. I printed the letters directly onto the white cardstock, cut the white and blue cardstock to the appropriate sized circles, glued them together in the layered format (with glue dots) and then used a ribbon to string them together.
And for entertainment? A mariachi, of course! And to help keep the kids entertained I set up an arts and crafts area, along with a very helpful friend to assist the kids.
My husband and I believe that Baptisms can be celebrated in a big way because they only happen once in a child’s life, unlike a birthday. We love making a big deal of this special day in our child's life. Incorporating the beautiful Mexican traditions into our child's Baptism is a real treat!
The pictures shared on this post were taken at our son's Baptism by my very talented friend Jennifer Carrillo of Bella Rosa Photography. Check out her site - amazing pictures!
Feliz Dia de Reyes or Feast of the Three Kings!
On January 6, most of the Hispanic world celebrates El Dia De Reyes, the Epiphany. We remember the day when the three wise men or Magi followed the star to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus, bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. This is Epiphany on the church calendar, the 12th day after Christmas, also remembering when the Magi arrived bearing gifts for baby Jesus.
January 6th really marks the end of the Christmas season in Mexico. People start to head back to school and work after having spent time with family and friends during the past few weeks. Mexican Christmas tradition generally calls for gifts to be exchanged on Dia de Reyes instead of on Christmas day, but it’s my impression that you see gifts being exchanged on Christmas day more and more often, with the traditions of Santa and Christmas trees becoming more popular.
Growing up, my family always celebrated three kings day. The three kings would pass by our home on their way back from visiting baby Jesus in Bethlehem and, if we had been good, leave our shoes that had been left by the front door filled with candy and perhaps small treats. My siblings and I ALWAYS made sure to leave our biggest shoes out by the door, for more treat space!
I grew up in a predominately Mexican community on the south side of Chicago, so I knew many people who celebrated this day. Yes, it was not as exciting as Christmas and Santa bringing us the “big” gifts, but I did look forward to waking up on January 6th and seeing what had been left behind in my shoe by the Magi! As my siblings and I grew up, the tradition of celebrating this day became less important to me, maybe because I stopped believing in the Magi and I focused more on the festivities around Christmas. However, now that I have small children of my own I want to make sure that my they celebrate this Feast. They are likely not to learn too much about it from their school or friends, so it’s up to me. My husband is not Latino, but he appreciates our family celebrating my cultural traditions and is on board to celebrate as a family.
If you celebrate today, I hope that it’s a great day, bringing back some wonderful childhood memories. These sites have good explanations on the traditions and history around today’s Dia de Reyes.
What are Las Posadas?
Photographs by Jennifer Carrillo, Bella Rosa Photography
I love celebrating Las Posadas! They mark the beginning of Christmas festivities across México, in some parts of Latin America, and even many communities in the United States. They are a beautiful celebration of processions and parties starting December 16th and lasting for 9 consecutive days in anticipation of Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve. Posada literally means “lodging” in Spanish and they commemorate the journey that Mary and Joseph took from Nazareth to Bethlehem before Jesus’ birth on Christmas. Celebrating Las Posadas is one of the most unique Mexican traditions.
Each night between December 16th and December 24th a Posada is celebrated. A procession is formed by participants called los peregrinos or “pilgrims” and they are led by two children carrying a platform with Mary and Joseph statues. Sometimes two older children or teenagers are dressed as Mary and Joseph. In some larger scale processions, a real donkey may be used with Mary riding the donkey with Joseph by her side. Los peregrinos keep Mary and Joseph company by carrying candles (called farolitos, Spanish for “little lanterns”) and singing songs along the procession route. It’s common for young children to wear homemade costumes to represent shepherds and angels in the procession. Sometimes a child leads the entire procession while holding either a large star or a farolito. The peregrinos ask for posada or lodging at three different homes on their procession route, but only the 3rd home will allow them in. After songs and prayers around the nativity scene are complete, a party follows, of course!
As a child, my parents would often taken us to México to be with our family during the Christmas season and celebrating Las Posadas was a central part of our trips. The singing, the food, and the piñatas – I remember them fondly. When we did not make it to México for Christmas, we celebrated Las Posadas with our church community– it was just like being back in México, except that I grew up in Chicago and it was much colder during the outside procession!
As part of an ongoing effort to teach my children about their Mexican culture, my husband suggested that we celebrate Las Posadas with our friends and family. The celebration brought back many great memories for me. I hope you enjoy looking at the pictures and let us know what you think!