When we went to Mexico when I was little, I remember that Mexicans didn’t really celebrate Christmas. The day for giving gifts to children was January 6, el Día de los Reyes. Occasionally, small gifts were given for Christmas, but the big gifts were given on January 6.
So I was surprised to see that many Mexicans were Christmas shopping when I was in Mexico before Christmas. I asked my cousin about all the Mexicans Christmas shopping and she told me that more and more people were giving the big gifts on Christmas and the smaller ones on January 6.
I attribute this to American cultural imperialism and capitalism. Mexico as a country that is adapting to better function in a global economy. And of course, when Mexicans watch television, they get to see all of the American Christmas movies that stress gift-giving on Christmas Day, especially by Santa Claus.
While in Mexico City, I noticed the traditional Christmas decorations featuring a Nacimiento (Nativity Scene), but I also saw other Christmas decorations like Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman, which was ironic since it hardly ever snows in México City. The street vendors even sold reindeer antlers and noses to attach to your car. I was surprised to see that people actually drove around in these “reindeer” cars.
Meanwhile, my family in Celaya celebrated Christmas in the traditional way by gathering on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve), going to mass at the catedral, and then eating a big dinner. We went to mass and my cousin took a baby Jesus surrounded by candy on a tray that she placed near the altar for the priest to bless during the mass. After mass, we walked back home with baby Jesus and then ate dinner. Then we took baby Jesus to the Nativity Scene and everyone prayed and sang songs to him. Everyone then kissed baby Jesus and took a piece of candy from the tray. After this, I placed baby Jesus in the Nacimiento. My cousin later started a bonfire that the children enjoyed because they placed inflated baloons over the flames and watched the baloons fly away. No one received gifts on Christmas morning because in Celaya the children still receive their gifts el Día de los Reyes.