12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: Devout Mexican Catholics hold parades, make altars for baby Jesus

(Photo used by permission of Jesus Galindo)
Senior Jesus Galindo stands in front of his family’s Christmas tree with brother JP, ’02, sister Cristy and brother Gustavo, ’00.

Cultures around the world have special ways of celebrating the holiday season. In the “12 Days of Christmas” series, sophomores Jack Christian and Allison Zhang will interview students and teachers on their international Christmas experiences. Check back tomorrow to hear about Christmas in the Netherlands from freshman Héloïse Schep.

“It’s a holiday in which family always gathers around,” senior Jesus Galindo said.

And while Thanksgiving is practically synonymous with family, Galindo is talking about Christmas.

Galindo lived in Mexico for 12 years before moving back to Sacramento, where he was born.

He said that Christmas is celebrated similarly in Mexico and in the U.S.

There are Christmas trees, lights and gifts exchanged.

But in Mexico, houses aren’t as decorated.

“People aren’t as flamboyant in terms of Christmas lights and statues that move,” Galindo said.

However, his family still sets up a Christmas tree and some lights, as well as an altar depicting the scene of Jesus Christ’s birth.

“And on the night of the 24th, that’s when you put baby Jesus on the nest,” Galindo said.

As of 2010, 82.7 percent of the population in Mexico was Roman Catholic, in comparison to 20.8 percent in the U.S.

Because of that, there are also many Catholic parades on Christmas, Galindo said.

“Every 24th – the night that Jesus Christ was born – the neighborhood would always gather around and go singing,” he said.

Children in Mexico do believe in Santa and other mythical beings, like the Easter bunny, Galindo said.

“But instead of the tooth fairy, we have a mouse of the tooth,” he said.

By Allison Zhang

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