Monday, December 26, 2011

Feliz Navidad!

Okay, so I am a day late but still I hope you had a very Merry Christmas!! We started the day at the beach and found a small reef about 800 m away and did some snorkeling.
The party started at 8 pm and went until 6 am! I was pooped by 2 am and my Spanish was failing so I bailed early. We had a blast at the party, 10 adults and a 3 year old. This year the celebration was at Diego's sister's place to make it easier for our nephew Santiago to get to bed after opening his presents. The thing I find the most interesting is how they decorate their houses with Christmas trees, snowmen and Santa Claus. They actually import live trees from Canada and the vast majority of Mexicans have never seen real snow!!
They do have Santa Claus and he does come in the night so Santiago had more present to open in the morning! I asked them how Santa got into the houses since they don't have chimneys and they have bars on all the windows... I don't think any of them had ever thought of that before, not even as children! One tradition that we don't have is to celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men so on Jan 6. On that night the kids put out a shoe and get a little gift. There is also a traditional cake that I describe here when I was fortunate enough to experience the celebration in 2009.

There were lots of gifts to go around and with each gift you have to hug and sing which just adds to the fun and celebratory ambiance. It took almost 3 hours for all the gifts to be opened and then it was time to eat (at 12 am!!!). As usual we had WAY to much food and we will be eating leftovers for at least another couple of days. I made Canadian style turkey dinner to go with the more traditional Mexican dishes and everyone LOVED IT! I even brought canned whole berry cranberry sauce to give them the real experience.
We also had Bacalao a la Vizcaina which is salted cod fish soaked in water to remove the salt and then cooked in a tomato sauce with onions, potatoes and olives. This is a very traditional dish for Christmas in Mexico and dates back to the Spanish conquest. There is no cod fish in Mexico but the Spanish used to fish the cod off the Canadian and American coast and brought the tradition with them. The link to the bacalao recipe is from Diego's great-great grandmother! The one we ate this year (photo below) is from his brother-in-law's family.
We had pork loin stuffed with nuts, plums and grapes with a nut and red wine sauce. Although not traditional and it doesn't look very appealing in the photo below, it was DELICIOUS! I am getting the recipe for sure. There was also a lasagna with walnuts, almonds, capers, olives and ground beef...who would have thought to put nuts in a lasagna but it was very tasty!
For dessert we had ensalada de manzana (apple salad with a cream sauce - in the yellow bowl) and hojaldra. Hojaldra is very traditional at Christmas and New Years and comes from the Yucatan peninsula. It is a layer of a pastry, one of ham, another of cheese and then topped with another layer of pastry sprinkled with coarse grain sugar. Diego's sister made it and I forgot to take a photo but for New Years, Diego's mom is going to teach me how to make it and I will pass on the information because it is delicious!


  1. wow!! what a fantastic Christmas!! So strange that they import living xmas trees, but then lovely to read about the small differences in traditions! :)

  2. You have to stop torturing me, Alli! I was drooling all over my keyboard reading this post. ;D So glad you're taking some time to enjoy yourselves! Can't wait to see any Mexican recipes that you share.

  3. The celebration of the Wise Men visiting baby Jesus is something we used to celebrate when I was young and it is called "L'epiphanie" in french. We would put our stocking out at the foot of the bed and get candy and a little toy. As we got older we started putting the stocking out at New Year's instead, not sure why. It is definitely still a religious celebration to those who practice their faith. Ciao, Mom

  4. Everything sounds fantastic and looks delicious. We (the Acadians) also celebrate at midnight with food, music and good cheer; it's called ''le réveillon''. Not all families do this though, we never have. Sounds like you guys are having a wonderful time. Happy New Year Alli.