Friday, January 10, 2014

Christmas Around the World-Mexico

Finally out Christmas Around the World- Mexico!! Bare with me as I've had to piece this together. We did the bulk of it back in December at our bilingual church. Father did a much better job presenting the traditions than I could have done.

Here's some of what we've learned:

Their celebration is called Las Posadas (in Spanish it means dwelling or lodging). The Posadas begins on December 16 and continues for the following 9 evenings, with the Posada on December 24 and midnight mass.
The Posada begins with the recitation of the Holy Rosary then the proceed from the church to the local neighborhood. The Posada con be led by a small group carrying a manger scene or pictures of Mary and Joseph. The families in the neighborhood were the procession will travel will be selected before hand. Usually there are three house selected where the Posada will not take place. The participants will stand before the door of each house and sing a song in Spanish asking to enter the house. A small group will remain inside and tell the outside group that it is not possible to enter. The group proceeds along to the Posada house. Again the y will sing from outside asking for admittance to the house, a small group will sing the response from inside the house where the Posada will take place. The host family will provide the Las Posada dinner, including Hispanic dishes like tamales, menudo and posoli. Each Posada ends will with the traditional piñata.

The traditional piñatas has religious significance. The Mexican Catholic interpretation of the piñata suggested the struggle of a man against temptation. The clay pot represents Satan. As the traditional style of the piñata is in a the shape of a seven point star, the cones represent the seven deadly sins-greed, gluttony, sloth, pride, envy, wrath, and lust. The seasonal treats inside the piñata symbolize the temptation of evil. The blindfolded person with a stick stands for faith. The spinning of the blindfolded person and singing by the other participants represents the disorientation caused by temptation. The person is turned thirty times, one spin for each year of Christ's life on this planet. The hitting of the piñata signifies the struggle against temptation and evil. When broken, the treats inside represent the award for keeping the faith..

We participated in hearing our fellow Spanish speaking parishioners sing the Posada Song followed by all the children being invited down the hallway to join in with the piñata. Those who knew the song sang it for every child when it was threir turn at the piñata. I wish I knew what they were singing. Just this past week the boys and I made our first Rosca de Reyes (3 King Cake). Traditionally the cake is had as part of celebrating the epiphany on January 6th. There is a "baby Jesus" hidden within the cake (sometimes there is more than one "baby" in the cakes; and a dried bean can also be used in place of a plastic baby).

The Rosca de Reyes was a big hit around here. The only part they didn't care for were the candied fruits (cherries and oranges). We didn't put any figs on ours because I knew the boys wouldn't eat them.   Joey was the first person to find a baby, but over the next couple of days everyone managed to have find at least one baby in a piece of their cake. The recipe we used was for a large cake or two smaller cake. We were given 6 babies to place in our cake from Father.

Mexican Christmas Posada Song (and translated into English)

In the name of heaven                                                  Well if it's queen     
I ask you for shelter,                                                     who's asking
for my beloved wife                                                     why is it that she's out at night,
can go no farther.                                                         wandering so alone

This is not an inn                                                          My wife is Mary
Get on with you,                                                           she is the Queen of Heaven,
I can not open the door,                                                she will be mother
you might be a rogue.                                                   to the Divine Word.

Do not be inhuman,                                                      Is that you Joseph?
Show some charity,                                                      Your wife is Mary?
God in heaven                                                              Enter pilgrims
will reward you.                                                           I didn't recognize you.

You may go now                                                         May the Lord reward you  
and don't bother us anymore                                       for your charity,
because if I get angry                                                  and may the sky be filled
I will beat you.                                                            with happiness.

We are worn out                                                         Happy home,
all the way from Nazareth,                                         harboring on this day
I am a carpenter                                                          the pure virgin,
named Joseph.                                                            the beautiful Mary. 

Never mind your name,                                         (The doors are opened and those outside enter as all sing)
Let me sleep,                                                             Enter holy pilgrims, pilgrims
I've already told you                                                  receive this corner
We won't open the door.                                           not this dwelling
                                                                                  but my heart.
We request lodging,                                                 Tonight is for joy,
dear innkeeper,                                                         for pleasure and rejoicing
for only one night                                                     for tonight we will give lodging
for Queen of Heaven.                                               to the Mother of God the Son.

 There are many different recipes, but this is the one we used.
Rosca de Reyes
Large bread serving 16 (2 small breads)
 Bread Ingredients

1/2 cup of warm water
2 envelopes of dry active yeast
4 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
3/4 cup of sugar
3 large whole eggs
4 egg yolks mixed with 2 Tablespoons of water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoon orange extract
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened (plus more for bowl and plastic wrap)
 Freshly grated orange zest

Ingredients for the topping

3/4 cup of all purpose flour
6 Tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
Dry fruit like figs, candied oranges or cherries
1 egg beaten for glazing the bread
1 Tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
white sugar to sprinkle on top of the bread
a couple plastic baby dolls (or a dry bean)


1. Pour warm water into a bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Stir with a fork until dissolved, then let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the flour and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile mix flour, eggs, egg yolks, sugar. orange extract, orange zest, salt, and butter in a large mixing bowl. Mix until crumbly.

3. Add yeast mixture to the bowl and mix. It will very sticky! Place onto a floured surface and start kneading until you have a smooth dough. It will take about 15 minutes to get this result. *Do not add too much flour to your work area, the texture should be soft and managevable. If you add more flour than needed your bread will be dry.

4. Once your dough is smooth and elastic, place in a buttered bowl, and cover with buttered plastic wrap. Let dough stand in a warm  doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Make sure your kitchen is warm to help your dough rise.

5. While the dough is resting, mix the following ingredients for the decoration: margarine with the confectioners sugar. Then add in the flour and egg yolk until you have a smooth paste.

6. Preheat your oven at least 20 minutes before baking at 375 degrees with rack in lower third. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead a few times, then shape into a round cushion and make a hole in the middle. Shape into a ring and baby dolls. Transfer to a greased rimmed baking sheet and cover loosely with buttered plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. Gather all your decorations and the egg wash. For the egg wash whisk remaining egg with cream.

7. Brush the dough with the egg wash. Form strips with the confectioners sugar paste and decorate the dough. Place some of the pressing gently into the dough. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 10 m bread is a nice golden brown color. Depending on your oven it may require more time.

8. Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool.

*Do not forget to let your guests know there are plastic babies inside the bread.

Rosca de Reyes can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

*I had pulled the recipe from internet. I had viewed so many different recipes and lost track of who gets credit for this recipe. If I can find it or if anyone comes across the owner of this recipe I will give credit to them.