The Christmas season had many special festivities in Laredo, Texas. May I share some of the traditions that bring back beautiful memories.
First, the Christmas season began on December 1. I don't recall anything special other than getting the Christmas tree, manger and the decorations up. We always had a fresh tree but with the season extending to February 2, the tree tended to be on the dry side and quite "prickly".
We celebrated the posadas nine days before Christmas Eve. Starting on December 16, the journey by Mary and Joseph is reenacted with their trying to find a place to stay. Every night we reenacted their plight of going from door to door asking for a place to stay. The evening ended with finally someone inviting them to come in for the night. There should be different hosts but we had our posadas at my aunt's home, with everyone contributing to the meal. There always was a pinata.
On the ninth night or Christmas Eve, we would all go to Midnight Mass (Misa de Gallo or Rooster's Mass). Again after Midnight Mass we would go over to my aunt's home for the big Christmas meal. We never had pinatas that evening but I am told many households did.
Come Christmas Day, we celebrated at home and enjoyed the family and another big meal.
We had a traditional Santa visit on Christmas Day but on January 6, El Dia de Los Reyes (Three Kings Day) more presents were received because the three Kings finally came with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This is also called Epiphany. Families would gather to drink hot chocolate flavored with cinnamon and maybe vanilla, and a round bread-cake called Rosca de Reyes. Hidden inside this cake was a a small figure of the baby Jesus. The person who got the Infant Jesus would then be responsible for the tamales on El Dia de la Candelaria or Candelmas February 2. In my home, the festivities did not extend to February 2. Instead, at school, whoever got the Baby Jesus would be the Queen for the Day, crown and all.
The official ending of the Christmas season was February 2, forty days after the birth of Jesus.
PAPA invites all our PAPA members to celebrate the Epiphany or El Dia de los Reyes on January 5, 2020. Be on the lookout for the information via email/mail.