With all of the music, colorful decorations, and festive Mexican food that come with Christmas traditions in Mexico, it’s impossible to contain them all into just one day. The Christmas season in Mexico can last for weeks, beginning in mid-December and ending on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, or Día de Los Reyes as it is known in Mexico, the Day of the Kings.
At this festive time of year, brightly colored papel picado decorations festoon buildings inside and out, and the delectable fragrance of traditional Mexican food drifts through the air. While each region can have its own specialties, there are some Mexican Christmas dishes that are universally loved.
Tamales may be the quintessential traditional Mexican food at Christmas. Fluffy masa dough surrounds savory or sweet fillings, wrapped tightly in either corn husks or banana leaves and steamed to delicious perfection. It’s a labor of love that has home chefs dedicating whole days to preparation, and that devotion comes through in the delicious flavors and warm, comforting texture. In northern Mexico, savory pork carnitas are a common filling, although throughout Mexico you may find that chicken, ground beef, cheese, peppers, or even tender cactus called nopales can make an appearance. Sweet tamales are also popular, especially among children, and they can be filled with chocolate, fruit, or even sweet corn.
Hearty stews and soups are another festive Mexican food that is popular all winter long. Favorites like menudo, birria, pozole, and caldo de pollo keep the cold weather at bay with warming spices, the heat from peppers, and satisfying chunks of meat and vegetables. Pozole is often the meal of choice for Mexican families returning home from Midnight Mass, and it can be found in red, green, or white varieties, echoing the colors of the Mexican flag.
In addition to favorite side dishes like refried beans and rice, there are some Mexican Christmas dishes that compliment the main meal, like bacalao, a salted cod dish brought from Spain that’s served with crackers or made into bacalao navideno, a stew featuring onions, olives, spices, and vegetables. Another festive Mexican food is the Christmas salad, a citrusy blend of oranges, pomegranate, beets, jicama, lime, and lettuce that wonderfully balances the rich and hearty main dishes. Chiles Rellenos, with their melted cheese interior and satisfyingly crispy exterior dressed in a savory sauce, make another favorite accompaniment to traditional Christmas dishes.
Warm drinks are especially popular at Christmas time, from the thick and delicious champurrado made from corn to the traditional spicy and cinnamon-flavored hot chocolate that’s become loved throughout the world. Ponche Navideño, a fruity, warm drink enlivened with a zesty spice blend and sometimes alcohol is another favorite festive drink.
The sweet end to a Christmas meal can come in the form of favorites like caramel flan, Leche con Arroz, crispy buñuelos or a selection of cookies and pan dulces. The most traditional Mexican food for dessert on Epiphany is the Rosca de Reyes, a wreath-shaped sweet bread decorated with colorful fruits that may have a tiny doll symbolizing the Christ child hidden somewhere inside. While marranitos, the fluffy, pig-shaped gingerbread cookies that are so fun to eat aren’t specifically a traditional Christmas food, their warm blend of spices and molasses flavor makes them a perfect treat around the holidays.
Experience Authentic Mexican Cuisine at Benito’s Restaurant
You can share some wonderful Mexican Christmas dishes and warm memories with your friends and family this holiday season when you visit Benito’s Restaurant. Our authentic Mexican dishes and welcoming atmosphere can make the perfect respite from your busy holiday preparations. Book now and let us share some of Mexico’s best traditional holiday dishes with you.