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Traditional Meals for Christmas in Mexico

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Christmas is just around the corner, which means it’s time again for our traditional meals for Christmas in Mexico.

In the United States and Canada, Christmas is celebrated on December 25th. That’s when everyone gets together and has a big meal. In Mexico, we celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 24th, which is Christmas Eve, or what we call Nochebuena, just like the typical poinsettia plants that fill every place or house during this time.

On the 24th of December, Mexican families get together, normally in the grandparent’s house, bringing gifts for everyone. The kids have a great time and wake up the next morning with Santa’s presents, if they behaved well during the year and had excellent grades in school.

If you had the opportunity to read our last blog about the Advent Crown, then you know that also on Nochebuena families light all the candles and have a prayer for Jesus’ birth.

Interestingly, dishes that you might think are popular for Christmas dinner may not be the same as we have in Mexico. For example, one of the most traditional meals for Nochebuena is turkey. That’s right, turkey and stuffing are very common, along with an apple salad, which is an important Christmas dinner dish.

Another typical dish is called romeritos, which is an edible plant, similar looking to rosemary. The dish is prepared with mole, baby potatoes, nopales and patties of dry shrimp. This dish is simply to die for!

Another traditional meal for this special occasion is bacalao, or cod. This meal is just exquisite. Depending upon which Mexican state you live in, bacalao can be cooked with different ingredients. The most common recipe is the one called A la Vizcaína.

Tamales and atole or champurrado (a thick hot drink made with ground corn, chocolate and vanilla) generally are less popular for Christmas, but in the state of Jalisco, tamales and atole are very popular for Christmas dinner.

Pork loin is also a common Nochebuena dish. There are many recipes for this meal, such as chipotle or anise dressing.

All these delicious meals are served with apple cider, the drink par excellence. Ponche de frutas are also very traditional this time of the year.

And, of course, let’s not forget our typical desserts to top off a wonderful dinner.  Mazapan (marzipan) is very popular for dessert, as is turrón (candy made with ground almonds with a fudge-like consistency). There are different kinds of turrón, chocolate-turrón, jijona-turrón or hard turrón. This candy came from Spain and has become a Mexican tradition. Fruitcake is also served but it isn’t as popular as it is in Europe.

These meals are the most popular in Mexico for Christmas, but every family and every state has their own favorite meal and dishes for the biggest holiday in Mexico.

We know for sure that some of you have tried at least one of these dishes if you have celebrated Christmas here in Mexico. We think there will be a time when Christmas dinner will include a mix of recipes from Mexico, Canada and the United States.

Buen Provecho y Feliz Navidad!


  1. Thank you for a wonderful article. The only correction I might make is that it shows a slight misunderstanding of how the Church’s calendar operates. Days in the Roman Catholic calendar are reckoned from sundown to sundown, exactly as they were, and still are, in Jewish practice. Hence, sundown on December 24 is considered the beginning of December 25, so the designation of nochebuena on this night makes perfect sense. Throughout the Hispanic world many place names were given based on the dates when they were first encountered, and they only make sense if one keeps in mind that the evening before is actually considered part of the next calendar day. Thank you for your interesting blog posts! Feliz Navidad y un Prospero Año Nuevo…


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