What do people do for Christmas in Latin America?

December is very important for a lot of people, not only for the presents (regalos), but for all the traditions that are very common this month. In this post, I’ll try to explain two that are very common where I live and are some of my favorites. At the same time, I’m sure you’ll learn some new vocab!

(These activities/traditions also have to do with Catholicism, so they of course don’t apply to everyone or every household in Latin America)

  1. Nacimiento/pesebre

Besides putting up a Christmas tree (un árbol de Navidad), it is very common to find a nacimiento or pesebre (also called portal or belén) which is a representation of Jesus’s birth. In Catholic families, it is very common for the whole family to help make it. There’s usually a little house (like the one in the picture) that people make/buy and then use again in the future.

Some figures you can find in a pesebre are:

María, San José y el niño Jesús (Mary, St. Joseph and baby Jesus)
Los Reyes Magos – (Three Wise Men)
El Ángel – (the Angel)
El pastor – (the sheperd)
La mula – (the mule)
El buey – (the ox)
Ovejas – (sheep)

  1. Posadas

This is something that I really enjoyed, but that hasn’t been done for the past two years (as you might imagine, COVID got in the way). Posadas usually take place on nine nights, from December 16 to December 24, and they represent Virgin Mary and St. Joseph’s search for a place to stay where Jesus could be born. Posadas started in Mexico, but are now very common in other Latin countries. For this tradition, sometimes a woman dresses up as Mary and a man dresses up as St. Joseph, and a group of people would usually accompany them to one house per night where they will sing Christmas carols (or villancicos in Spanish) and then share some food with the host family.

This is part of what people sing before entering the house (some people sing outside, some inside):

En nombre del cielo, (In the name of heaven)
Os pido posada, (I ask you for shelter)
Pues no puede andar (For she cannot walk)
Ya mi esposa amada (My beloved wife)

Here’s a video of how they are celebrated in Mexico and their origin.

Have you ever been to a posada? How do you celebrate Christmas?


Great post Wilmer! I got to know ”Posadas” here in Mexico, although I am catholic I did not know what they were before I came here.
Before Corona, Posadas were really popular here where I live. In the suburbs but also in the city/.


Interesting! I call “posadas”, “novenas” but is actually the same. We have a lot of food, and we pray all together, singing “villancicos” :musical_note:. A funny thing about “pesebres” is that sometimes we have dinosaurs :sauropod: or other animals in it because kids sometimes put their toys there :sweat_smile:.


Que post tan genial! me encanto! me hiciste recordar mis navidades en Colombia. Gracias


Sinceramente, aquí en el Ecuador mucha gente se embriaga mucho entre navidad y año nuevo. Por eso no es muy recomendable manejar largas distancias con el carro en esas fechas.
Aparte de eso también hay tradiciones cómo las “pases del niño” o las “novenas” que son básicamente desfiles en que la gente se disfraza (y se emborracha, por supuesto). Pero en ese año los pases del niño han sido prohibidos por el gobierno debido al Covid. Si hubo algunos, pero de forma un poco clandestina para no llamar la atención de la Policía.


Gracias @wilmer_arias por este post tan interesante.
En México :mexico: donde vivo, las posadas y las piñatas son una tradición muy bonita que reúnen la comunidad en un ambiente muy cálido. :grinning: :hugs:
:musical_score: México lindo y querido :musical_score: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Muchas gracias por tu post, Wilmer! Es genial! Aquí en mi país es verano, pero me gusta leer sobre Navidad en cualquier momento del año. Me encantan las canciones de Navidad. Que vídeo tan bonito!

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