Each year I like to learn about a different country for our Christmas Around the World. This year we are learning about Christmas in Mexico. It’s been on my to do list for quite a while because Las Posadas intrigues me.
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Our Christmas in Mexico books
Las Posadas: A Hispanic Christmas Celebration– This provided the majority of our inspiration for what we did, we made the cookies from it, and the kids were intrigued by the idea of Las Posadas
The Legend of the Poinsettia– I love this story, and my kids thought it was fun. Basically if it says “Tomie dePaola” as author or illustrator you’ve got me hooked.
Nine Days to Christmas– I found this to be interesting, but it focused more on the little girl getting ready for her first Las Posadas, than it did on the tradition, so we didn’t focus on this one as much.
Merry Christmas Everywhere– I’m using this for future inspiration, I opted not to do the suggested craft for Mexico in this book, but it did provide a vague inspiration for the craft we did complete.
Activity 1: Make Mexican Christmas cookies (Biscochitos)
I’m going to say right now I royally messed up the traditional recipe for this. So, if you want a faithful recreation, stop right now. I didn’t have the ingredients to do that.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/8 cup sweet chokeberry juice (I used apple cider, see note below)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon anise (I don’t like anise, so I left this out)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (I think I accidentally added 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on afterward
- Spend 20 minutes researching substitutions for chokeberries. Find things that I’m even less likely to find, and just give it all up and decide to use apple cider, which I now have in excess because of a sale at Sam’s Club and buying 3 gallons last Monday. Excuse me I need to go make a cup of hot apple cider.
- Cream together sugar, butter, and cream. Discover you don’t have the ONE EGG you need. Frantically ask on Facebook what you can substitute for eggs when you don’t have applesauce or banana to sub in. Get told 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise will work. Do that, but make sure not to tell the kids because they won’t eat it if they know.
- Add the apple cider (and yes my cup of hot cider tastes great, thanks for asking), salt, and vanilla.
- Add flour and baking powder.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 400 discover that is TOO LONG.
- Remember you were supposed to sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top after you discover the almost burned cookies.
- Bake next batch for 12 minutes and discover that is just right, and happily finish making the cookies.
Even if the recipe went all wrong, the cookies turned out great and the kids devoured them. Then Princess took them to an American Heritage Girl party and came home with crumbs.
Activity 2: Make a Las Posadas statue set
In the Nine Days to Christmas book and in several of the videos we watched they carried a statue of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem on a donkey. I decided to let the kids make some Mary and Joseph peg dolls using various fabric scraps, pipe cleaners, and what have you else that I dug up.
Now, we used hot glue guns and glue dots to apply everything, but my kids are 11 and 10 and not likely to burn themselves or stick glue dots in their hair. Princess is rather paranoid about burning herself, so she opted for glue dots.
As we put together our Las Posadas statues, we listened to the Adventures in Odyssey episode about Las Posadas (this particular set is a Christmas only one, I’m a sucker for their Christmas episodes) which always cracks me up.
All in all their creations reflected their personalities.
Princess’ looks like all of her other creations over the top eyes because she has discovered Beanie Boos (do your kids love them too?), and over the top complicated to put it all together.
Superman’s is quirky and unique because he opted for the assemble it out of a mini wooden pot and giant wooden beads. This took a bit more work, however in the end it turned out rather cute.
Batman’s looks like zombies. He was going for a realism effect and making them look sleep-deprived because that’s what he hears new parents feel like after reading Baby Blues comics for the past 6 months.
And mine are probably more traditional. All in all, I like all of them. They each have their own unique story to tell.
Las Posadas song, to finish off our Christmas in Mexico unit.
I mentioned we watched several Las Posadas videos. That’s because none of them were super great, and it was a lot of home video type feel. However this particular one gave a great feel for the songs and back and forth you would hear between the people acting out Las Posadas. Bonus points it’s in English for those of us Gringos who don’t speak good Spanish.
Find more Christmas Around the World ideas over at iHomeschool Network.