Top 20 Mexican Christmas Foods
Christmas food in Mexico is the result of cultural syncretism and diversity. Let us tell you a bit about its beginnings and the best seasonal dishes to celebrate it.
Christmas History Facts in Mexico
The holiday season in Mexico peaks on Christmas Day, which is celebrated on December 25 and like all national celebrations, traditional food makes its appearance with the prominence it deserves.
It’s important to remember that before the Colony, in America we didn’t have certain foods that are traditional today, such as pork. Also, another not less important fact is that the word Christmas is derived from the Latin nativitas, which means nativity.
Another interesting fact you need to know is that Mexico celebrated its first Christmas in 1526, and Fray Pedro de Gante wrote a letter to King Carlos V describing how it was celebrated with the indigenous people.
Celebration foods in Mexico include mole, pozole, pibil pork, tamales, which are preparations that require great dedication and are almost a ritual.
So let’s see how we celebrate Christmas with these 20 traditional dishes that are hugely popular in Mexico.
We start with a dish that makes many Mexicans’ mouths water. It is a typical Christmas or New Years’ dinner and is usually accompanied by a sweet sauce and garnished with fruit.
Bacalao is a mestizo dish, traditionally served at Christmas dinner, and is of Spanish and indigenous heritage, though later adapted with local ingredients. The Mexican version has olives, capers, güeros chili peppers, oregano, pepper, and tomato.
This was originally consumed at winter solstice. The oval shape represents the endless love of God, and the doll figure hidden inside the bread symbolizes baby Jesus.
It is usually topped with candied or crystallized fruits.
In northern Mexico, Tarahumara traditions are hearty dinners with local ingredients, such as apple and walnut.
This salad is made with apples, sour cream, blueberries or raisins, chopped walnuts, and icing sugar. Garnished with baked coconut and cherries, it’s the most traditional Christmas dessert.
5. Romeritos with Mole
Mullis, or moles, were spicy sauces with many ingredients that little by little became mixed with European foods. Romeritos are prepared with mole and served with rice.
The pre-Hispanic recipe had ahuautle, the fly’s roe from Texcoco lake.
During the winter solstice, the Aztecs celebrated the so-called Panquetzaliztli, in which the god Huitzilopochtli was celebrated for his triumph over the goddess of the moon, Coyolxauhqui. At this festival, the main dish was guajolote, wild turkey.
It’s usually filled, injected, or bathed with white wine, butter, and spices.
It’s not just any rice, this rice is made with poblano pepper and is very common at Christmas dinner.
This is a delicious and easy to prepare dessert. It’s made with gelatin cut into squares, with nuts, condensed milk, marshmallows, and fruit, such as peeled orange wedges.
9. Shrimp Tortitas/ Tortillitas o tortitas de camarones
These are breaded fried shrimp balls, or tortillas, and are one of the star Christmas dishes. They’re made with dried shrimp and are the perfect accompaniment for Romeritos.
Tamales were made to offer to deities. Early Mexican culture had a lunar calendar with 18 months, each of 20 days. Later, for Christmas, they added lard to make them a Christian dish.
They can be offered as a main dish or there is a sweet version eaten dessert.
During the Christmas season, you can see a lot of buñuelos. They’re made with honey, brown sugar, and cinnamon and are fried and sprinkled with sugar.
This drink, that accompanies tamales or desserts, is made with corn, chocolate, water, brown sugar, and vanilla. All the ingredients are brought to a boil and cooked until it thickens.
Originating with the Aztecs, it’s now the most famous Christmas drink across the entire country.
There are several styles of pozole depending on the region. It is one of the most famous dishes of Mexico and is made with corn kernels, pork or chicken, spices, and six different dry chilies.
Birria stew is originally prepared with goat or lamb meat. However, there are places where they also make it with veal, beef, pork, or a mix of meats.
The meat is marinated with ground chili peppers for several hours, then wrapped in maguey leaves, and cooked in an underground oven.
This is a spicy soup made with corn kernels, or without them, pork feet, and beef stomach as the main ingredients. It is an ethnic dish that is also called pancita.
In Chiapas, they honor the Virgin’s nine months of pregnancy by eating pumpkin candy in front of the church’s atrium, on the morning of December 26.
The Castilla Pumpkin is confit, from which pumpkin concentrate is obtained.
A stew of beans with beef or pork on the bone that the Yaqui Indians consider a ceremonial dish. In some recipes, they put vegetables or chickpeas.
Stuffed chili is prepared with poblano peppers that are roasted and stuffed with cheese or meat, then coated with an egg and flour mixture, and finally fried.
Mixiote is a dish from pre-Hispanic times. It can be filled with beef, chicken, fish, mutton, pork, or shrimp. The preparation is somewhat tedious and requires a lot of patience, but it’s worth a try.
This is certainly a very delicious dish. The cheese with which it’s prepared, known as queso de bola, is a Dutch cheese. It is filled with spicy ground pork and vegetables, bathed in a delicious sauce, and garnished with green olives.
The world is full of delicious gastronomy. Today, cultural customs have become linked, though many of us still have our ancestral traditions deeply ingrained.
Love yours, embrace it, and share it with the world!
Chef Griselda Muñoz Mexico