Christmas in Mexico is the biggest celebration of the year. The fun begins nine days before Christmas, on December 16, with Las Posadas. Las Posada is a holiday play that tells the traditional story of Joseph and Mary and their journey to Jerusalem. Each night, for the nine nights preceding Christmas, the townspeople gather in the plaza for the posada. Actors for Mary and Joseph knock on doors to sing, "Can we come in to have our baby?" Two actors playing the Devils pop their heads out and sing, "No! No!" We have no room. You can't come in!!" And the procession goes to another door for a repeat performance. Then, on Christmas Eve, the usual procession ends at the Governor's Palace. After being rejected at all the other doors, the actors ask again to come in. Instead of telling them no, this time the doors swing wide open and all the guests are invited in for the celebrations. There is food and dancing. Children break a piñata full of gifts and candy and sing songs while they drink hot chocolate and eat cookies.
Another tradition from Mexico is that of using the poinsettia as the traditional Christmas flower. A legend tells the story of a young boy, who had no gift to give to the Christ child at the Christmas nativity scene. He gathered an armful of wild green branches on the way into the church to give as his gift. As the onlookers laughed at his gift, a bright red flower bloomed on each green branch. The weeds magically changed into the beautiful Christmas poinsettias. This custom of displaying the Christmas flower is popular around the world today.
The Mexican Christmas celebration ends on January 6, Three King's Day. Before going to bed at night, young children leave water and hay on their doorsteps to feed the Three King's camels. When they wake in the morning they find gifts and treats left by the Three Kings. They celebrate with a traditional dinner of turkey, tortillas, fruits, vegetables, and fried peppers.