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Folklore, color and tradition: the senses of Mexican Christmas

Actualizado: 20 dic 2023

By Luz Mariana Rodríguez | December 20th, 2023


Navidad en Torreón México
The excitement of the holidays in local markets of Mexico. In the right is Mrs. Guadalupe Rodríguez Rodríguez who has kept this tradition alive for more than 60 years. Photography by Luz Mariana Rodríguez

The cool breeze carries with it the fallen leaves, meanwhile the days have become shorter, and the evenings have taken a nostalgic tinge, as if announcing the end of something. In the distance you can hear jingle bells mixed with the streetlights. The cold has arrived also holidays.


There is a clear idea of how Christmas parties look like in the West. Snow, ornaments in buildings, people in shops rushing to make last-minute purchases, and a big man with a red outfit in every corner, whether in stores or advertisements.


However, each region finds a way to imbue its own identity on celebrations rituals. As if it were a brush giving the last details to a canvas, filling it with festivity and color.


Guadalupana Pilgrimage in Torreón Mexico. By Luz Mariana Rodríguez

Officially, the Christmas period in Mexico starts with the now famous "Guadalupe – Reyes" or "December Festivities". An accumulation of festivities beginning in December Twelve with the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe and conclude on January seven with Three wise men Day.


However, in some places of the country the preparations begin days before with pilgrimages filling the streets with dancers and devotees since November, the posadas (Mexican Christmas parties) or the vendors who have been preparing during months to receive the festivities. An example of this can be found in the city of Torreón, a semi-desert area located in the north of Mexico, in the state of Coahuila.


Picture by Luz Mariana Rodríguez

In Torreón, during this time of the year passers-by can be seen joining the beauty of the Golden hour and watching the dancers passing commemorating the Morenita (Guadalupe Virgin).


Downtown, we will find the famous Puestecitos. A more than sixty-five-year-old market that, in theory, is a common place but, if we look closer, is a space for a lot of stories waiting to be told.


Seasonal items and herbs are found at local Christmas markets. Photography by Luz Mariana Rodríguez

Settling in the heart of the city, on November third, just after the Day of the Dead, these businesses begin activities 10 days later, selling items exclusively for the December holidays, among these we can find seasonal herbs, figures of saints, crafts, lights, as well as typical seasonal food, tamales, buñuelos, atole and traditional pancakes.



It is worth mentioning the perfect location of this place, right at an intersection where pilgrims pass every afternoon, as well as students and workers who decide to take a walk around at the end of the day.


For a minute there, you can lose your mind in your five senses. The smell of fresh herbes, the lights and ornaments impregnated with Mexican folklore, the light nudges of strangers making their way through the crowd and the bustle of the vendors mixed with Christmas melodies "Pásele pásele, pregunte sin compromiso güerita".


This place has witnessed multiple generations measuring their years through hard work and tradition, such is the case of María de La Cruz Solís, a merchant with more than thirty-eight years of seniority:


"These are inherited business, for example this one was left to me by an aunt, I have been here since I was 5 years old, we are all a big family, many of us grew up together and continue with the tradition year by year."

Digging into more stories the longest trajectory is from Mrs. Guadalupe Rodríguez Rodríguez: "I have been working here for about sixty-five years, I arrived when I was seventeen, I started working this business as a newlywed with my husband and currently we are part of this community of merchants that meets every year to sell and remember old times, as well as to teach the next generations to take over the business."


Talking about street commerce, we have to mention the magnificent work that exists behind each vendor who prepares months before in advance monitoring the distribution of each stall, as Miguel Rivas tell us:

“In this market there are several lines of business, if you walk forward, you will find people who sell you herbes, which come mainly from Saltillo, Coahuila in México, if you walk further to the center of the market you will find handicrafts, clay figures, typical candy and a lot of Mexican ornaments. It is also particularly important to see the evolution of the product, before we started selling plastic sphere there were blown glass sphere, or natural trees have been replaced by the artificial ones.”


Preparation is also important as the process of stocking each stall to start selling safely, having deals with artisans and suppliers throughout the republic, mainly from Guadalajara and Puebla. "We started to stock the product almost 3 months in advance, more or less from August or September."


Iker Pimentel helps his grandparents after school. Image by Luz Mariana Rodríguez

There is no doubt that new generations have the power of following the tradition of Christmas commerce in the Puestecitos, such is the case of twelve-year-old Iker Pimentel


"I always help my grandparents after school at their churros and pancakes stand, I prepare and sell them for twenty pesos. I've liked it a lot since I was a kid and I want to keep coming back when I grow up."

Over the years, the famous Puestecitos have been accomplices of thousands of people who every year decide to dedicate two months of their lives to leaving their usual businesses in local markets and keeping alive a tradition of more than seventy-five years. Likewise, the people who night after night enjoy the tour and join with each other to give this time of the year not only the meaning of family union, but also making stronger the bonds of identity and community.

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