Plan Ahead for Mexican Holidays

United States By Christy Lowry September 26, 2022

Plan ahead for gifting holidays in Mexico so you can send gifts or money transfers to help family celebrate. Mexico’s rich culture, delectable cuisine, and deeply religious peoples lead to a calendar steeped in tradition, family gatherings, and fun. A majority of Mexico’s holidays are associated with Christian festival days, along with festivals for patron saints, and are well known around the globe. Check out some less well-known holidays below, and plan ahead—whether you want to travel for the event, send gifts, or gift money.

Mexican Holidays

New Year, Año Nuevo

Año nuevo, New Year, is a big deal in Mexico.  Traditional New Year festivities begin with a long and late family dinner, often waiting till after 11 p.m. to eat. Traditional foods include ; and buñuelos, light and crisp Mexican wafers drizzled with a sweet syrup. Lentil soup is also popular as lentils are associated with abundance and good fortune.

Quench your thirst with ponche, a fruit-punch spiked with rum, and rompope (eggnog). Tequila and mezcal, champagne, and sidra (sparkling cider) are favorites as well. For good fortune, drop your gold ring into your drink after midnight when toasting – Salud! (Just don’t swallow it!)

Eating one grape for every clock strike at midnight is said to mean your 12 wishes will come true. You have to make sure you can eat all 12 before that final strike!

Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Pascua

Semana Santa is one of Mexico’s main holiday. Almost all towns and cities all over the country have some kind of public observance during this two-week period, from Palm Sunday to Easter (Pascua). Pilgrimages and processions celebrate the resurrection of Christ, often with dramatic reenactments.

Most schools and businesses are closed as the country’s unofficial “spring break.” Traditional areas of celebration and most beach destinations, such as Acapulco, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Veracruz, and Mazatlan, are generally booked in advance, so take note if you want to travel to Mexico at this time.

Children’s Day, Día del Niño

While not an official holiday in Mexico, Día de la Niño is widely celebrated. On April 30th, children receive gifts from family members. Schools generally hold big celebrations, complete with games, music, and performances. School is generally not in session so celebrations are often planned for the day before. Amusement parks, zoos, children’s museums, and shopping malls offer discounts and special deals and host special events, all in the effort to make children feel special.

Cinco de Mayo, Battle of Puebla

The Battle against the French, or Cinco de Mayo, celebrates the Mexican victory over French invaders near the city of Puebla in 1862. While this date, May 5, may be more popular in the U.S., Mexico still celebrates with costume parades and musical and cultural events all lasting for a week. Public schools are closed nationwide, but it is not an official national holiday in Mexico and is primarily observed in the state of Puebla.

Mother’s Day, Día de las Madres

Even though Mexican families are strongly patriarchal, mothers are held in high esteem in Mexico. Día de las Madres is celebrated on May 10th. This date was chosen as Mother’s Day in Mexico because it is considered payday for most , allowing families to splurge to celebrate this special occasion. If you’re visiting Mexico on May 10th, be sure to make restaurant reservations well in advance.

Children often gather around their home and serenade their mothers – sometimes with a full mariachi band, with “Las Mañanitas” which has lyrics translating to: “Because today is your day, we’ve come to sing to you.”

Father’s Day, Día del Padre

Father’s Day has been celebrated in Mexico since 1950, falling on the third Sunday in June. Often leading to small family reunions to celebrate, children visit their fathers and grandfathers, often with small gifts of appreciation. Father-like figures are also honored, such as stepfathers, big brothers, and other important men in their lives. As with almost every other holiday, food plays an important role. The father’s favorite foods are prepared, followed up with Mexican chocolate or pan dulce, a sweet bread with toppings.

Day of the Dead – Día de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos is the longstanding tradition of celebrating and honoring the dead. It is celebrated on November 1-2.  Altars, or ofrendas, for the dead, are arranged in their homes complete with offerings of food, beverages, and other objects to welcome the dead on their return to earth. Ofrendas include the four elements—water in pitchers for spirits to quench their thirst, papel picado (paper banners) to represent wind, food to represent the earth (often pan de muerto or “bread of the dead”), and candles representing fire. Cempasúchiles (marigolds) are often placed on ofrendas and around graves. The strong scent and vibrant color are said to designate a path from the cemetery to the families’ homes.

Celebrations vary from town to town but often include parades, festivals, music, and dancing. Delicious dishes of mole and bean tamales are prepared. Calaveritas de azucar, or sugar skulls, are brightly decorated and are a whimsical reminder of the cycle of life.

The movie “Coco” does a wonderful job of featuring this holiday, and the principal cast was all-Latino. The film grossed over $807 million worldwide and won two awards at the 90th Academy Awards, Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. Eleven locations from the movie can actually be visited!

Our Lady of Guadalupe & Posadas

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is held on December 12th in honor of Mary, the Virgin of Guadalupe. La Virgen de Guadalupe is depicted as a darker-skinned version of the Virgin Mary. It’s common for Mexicans to have a shrine in their home dedicated to her. The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared on rebel banners and was used as a battle cry during the revolt against the Spanish. She is an important part of Mexican identity and nationalism and is considered a patron saint of Mexico. Posadas follows the festivities of La Virgen de Guadalupe, consisting of a nine-day celebration reenacting Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. It begins on December 16th and lasts until December 24th. Children participate in the procession reenactment and afterward break open piñatas filled with candy, toys, and, occasionally, money.

Epiphany (Dia de los reyes magos)

Celebrated on January 6th, Epiphany marks the end of Christmas celebrations. Many children get gifts on this day instead of Christmas. The traditional food for the holiday is the rosca de reyes (king’s cake).  This oval-shaped treat is meant to represent the form of the crown of the Three Kings when they brought gifts to Jesus. Inside are plastic figures of Baby Jesus, and it is customary for the person to first find the figurine to host the meal on February 2nd on Candlemas.

Celebrating from Afar

If you have family or other loved ones in Mexico, you can help them celebrate any of these events by gifting money through Western Union. You can make a digital money transfer right from your phone using the Western Union mobile app. Your information is encrypted and you can save the information on each receiver so transfers to them are even faster the next time. We specialize in cross-border money transfers, so money transfers are quick, easy and reliable, whether you use our app, our website or one of our retail locations.

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