Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - One of our main reasons for moving to Puerto Vallarta developed around our growing distaste with spending holidays in the North. We found that the lack of commercialism (comparatively) and the meaningfulness of the holiday season in Puerto Vallarta completely captured our heart.
Many years ago we were enchanted by our first posada, watching groups walk down the streets, carrying lit candles and singing songs, and though we didn't understand the words at the time, the warmth and beauty was inescapable.
Though Walmart and their competitors deck the halls long before we are ready, we've learned to not be bothered by this rush of the season. Instead we've chosen to focus on the peregrinations; beautiful decorations around town; and festivities that seem to take place around every corner.
The following twelve days are devoted to symbolically finding a place for the Christ child to be born. The posadas are a time when businesses show gratitude and throw fiestas for employees; everyone gets a good dose of mutual admiration. Gift exchanges, splendid dinners and bonuses are the itinerary for the evening. Posadas also take place in neighborhoods, one home designated as a central destination. Offerings are gathered with celebrations often involving a local church or parish.
Christmas Eve in Puerto Vallarta is family night, with traditional dinner and a late night visit to the church. Christmas Day is reserved for relaxing and opening the home to visitors. We have discovered it's also a great day to go to the beach!
Christmas trees are available but we have found they perish quickly in the heat. If you decide to get one, remember they are shipped from a distant location, stored on a truck for several days, perhaps weeks, and need constant watering.
In Puerto Vallarta, as in all of Mexico, you will hear Nat King Cole 'roasting chestnuts on the open fire' until January 6th, when the Three Kings arrive with gifts for the newborn messiah. They will come in the form of little presents for the kiddies, hot chocolate and rosca, a large wreathed bread with a tiny plastic baby hidden inside. Whoever finds the baby in their serving is honored to serve tamales on February 2, a day mixed with Catholicism, pre-Hispanic celebrations and the midway point between the solstice and equinox. For us, it's the day we finally get to pack away all of the Christmas decorations.
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