Feliz Navidad: Christmas Mexican-style
with Martha Chapman

Alfonso Sumano, resting his singing voice before posadas at home

Christina Alvaradejo, looking forward to breaking some piñatas!

A festive table shared by amigos of Mexico

Christmas in Canada: Santa, presents under the tree, recovering from too much turkey, and lots of snow (desired by the little kids, if not the grown-ups).

But what about Christmas in Mexico?  No better people to ask than our friends at the Mexican Tourism Board, who convened with a few of their Canadian friends recently to share the spirit of the season.

As a wintry wind howled outside, we tucked into paella (“OK, more Spanish than Mexican, but a great way to share a meal with friends,†says Alfonso Sumano, who heads the Board here in Canada) and shared some laughs and fellowship.

But before sharing his favourite things about Christmas south-south of the border, Alfonso thanked the crowd for supporting Mexico, and proudly added that Canada is the only country in the world showing an increase in visitors to Mexico in 2009. 

And some exciting development is on its way, with Fonatur (the government agency which created Cancun, Ixtapa and Huatulco) eyeing the area south of Mazatlan known as Esquinapa as the next resort haven for sun-starved travellers. And Mazatlan’s efforts to promote itself as the “cultural beach†destination are a great next step in promoting Mexico as more than just beach.

As we were there to celebrate the festive season, I asked our hosts which Mexican Christmas tradition they enjoy the most. Christina Alvaradejo loves piñatas (colourful, hollow papier mache figures – star-shaped for Christmas – filled with fruit, candies and nuts). Michel Bulnes enjoys ponche, a hot fruit punch (with a rummy adult version), while Alfonso himself enjoys the tradition of posadas, whereby you visit friends, knocking on their door and singing before you are allowed in. But what Monica Garcia and Aldolfo Salamanca enjoy most are “Family reunions in peace and happiness.â€

Gracias and Merry Christmas – or feliz navidad! – to all our Mexican friends. Here’s to a great 2010 together!

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