Mexico has its own unique Christmas traditions when it comes to food. The main Christmas Eve dinner is called la cena navideña or la cena de Nochebuena, the Christmas Eve dinner. This meal typically features several iconic dishes that Mexicans have come to associate with the holidays.
One of the most popular Christmas dishes in Mexico is pozole. This hominy stew is made with pork or chicken, garlic, onion, chiles, hominy, and garnished with lettuce, radishes, avocado, lime, and oregano. Pozole is a celebratory, festive dish that is often served at big events and special occasions. During the Christmas season, it is an absolute staple and a dish that brings families together around the table.
Another classic Mexican Christmas food is bacalao. This is a dish made of salt cod that has been rehydrated and cooked with onions, tomatoes, olives, chiles, and other spices. It is often served with tortillas for making tacos. Bacalao is not an everyday food in Mexico, so it is considered a special treat reserved for holidays and celebrations. Families will prepare batches of bacalao days or weeks in advance of Christmas to allow the cod time to soak and rehydrate before cooking.
Romeritos are a traditional Christmas food made from a green, leafy plant called romerito, which is similar to rosemary. The romerito greens are cooked down in a stew along with shrimp, potatoes, mole sauce and other ingredients. Romeritos have a distinct, earthy flavor and are considered a customary part of the Christmas meal in many Mexican households. The greens symbolize hope and prosperity for the new year.
No Christmas celebration in Mexico would be complete without tamales. These stuffed corn dough packages can be filled with meats, cheese, chiles, vegetables, or other fillings, then steamed or baked in a corn husk or banana leaf wrapping. Tamale preparation is a labor of love, often involving the whole extended family. Different regions of Mexico have their own distinct tamale styles, fillings and customs. But regardless of the type, tamales are a quintessential Mexican holiday food.
Rosca de Reyes
Rosca de Reyes is a celebratory bread that is served on Three Kings Day (January 6th) to commemorate the Biblical story of the three wise men. This sweet oval shaped bread loaf contains candied fruit. Hidden inside is a small plastic figurine of baby Jesus. The person who gets the piece with the figurine is supposed to host a party on Candlemas (February 2nd). Rosca de Reyes is a classic Mexican sweet bread that rounds out the Christmas meal.
What would a Mexican Christmas feast be without a comforting and delicious drink like ponche navideño? This Christmas punch recipe calls for fruits like guava and sugar cane, spices like cinnamon, and liquor like rum or tequila. It is often served warm. The sweet fruity punch embodies the flavors of a Mexican Christmas. Adults will spike it with alcohol, while kids can enjoy the non-alcoholic version.
Bûche de Noël
Bûche de Noël, also known as Yule log cake, is a beloved Christmas dessert outside of Mexico. But it has also become popular in Mexico recently as well. This showstopping cake is shaped and decorated like a Yule log, finished with “bark” and mushroom decorations. The light sponge cake roll is filled with chocolate or another creamy filling. It’s an elegant cake that serves as a festive finale for a Christmas feast.
Mexican Christmas food brings families and friends together to celebrate the holidays in delicious fashion. With iconic dishes like pozole, bacalao, tamales, and more, the Christmas Eve dinner embodies the spirit of the season through food. Certain dishes may vary by region and family customs, but they all come together on the table for a heartwarming celebration on Nochebuena. The flavors bring comfort along with holiday meanings and memories. Feliz Navidad!