To better understand Hispanic culture it is very beneficial to have a working knowledge of national holidays of countries such as Mexico.
Studying Mexican holidays will help us to better understand Hispanic’s religion. Believe it or not, every single national holiday in Mexico has its roots both in pagan Aztec tradition as well as Roman Catholicism. When you learn how an altar is set up for dead loved ones on the Day of the Dead (typically our Halloween), you will be impacted by how influential spiritism is in the Catholic church. Most will be surprised by the devotion and dedication to Mary as is reflected in Las Posadas – a 9-day celebration which prepares the way for Christmas.
The intimate importance placed on the family and other relationships is also reflected in Mexican holidays. I remember with fondness communing with many neighbors on New Year’s Eve as they came by our house at midnight to give us an “abraso” or New Year’s hug. Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve, is also a time when family is emphasized. It is traditional to have an all night family get together which begins with a family mass at midnight followed by a huge dinner. While we often think of family during holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, there is an even greater emphasis on relationships reflected in Mexican holidays.
A working knowledge of Mexican holidays also provides great opportunities for ministry. Consider having a 5 de Mayo celebration as an evangelistic outreach; or how about passing out a flyer in Spanish inviting the whole Hispanic community to your candlelight Christmas Eve service?
Holidays are such an integral part of Hispanic culture that a brief study of them will greatly aid in our understanding of this people group. For a great summary of Mexico’s main holidays “click here.”:http://www.aracnets.net/ilcy/mexican.htm