Aguinaldo : presents
Alfrenique : sugar sculpture made in the form of small coffins, animals, plates of food, and the sugar skull (Calaveras) for the Days of the Dead.
Año Viejo Y Año Nueva : New Year’s Eve
Calaveras : Skull shaped alfrenique (sugar sculpture) decorated with colored icing and shiny paper foil for eyes. Sometimes names are written with icing on the skull and children often exchange these named skulls with their friends.
Calendas : religious processions usually conducted by sindicatos (organizations) and barrios (neighborhoods)
Caretas : Masks
Colaciones : basket of candy
El Catrin : A male “dandy” skeleton made popular by Jose Guadalupe Posadas political caricatures durring the 19th century. A visual representation of the Days of the Dead.
El Dia de Candelaria : the Day of Purification, February 2nd.
El Niños Dios : Christ child
Feliz Navidad : Merry Christmas!
La Catrina : A female “dandy” skeleton made popular by Jose Guadalupe Posadas political caricatures durring the 19th century. A visual representation of the Days of the Dead.
La Flor de Noche Buena : pointsettia
La Olla : clay containers
Las Pastorelas : (the shepherds) are live, mostly improvised plays depicting the nativity and the shepherds journey to visit the holy family. Lucifer and Arch Angel Gabriel are incorperated into a mostly humorous story of the battle between good and evil. This old tradition is uniquely Mexican.
Las Posadas : the shelters. A series of childrens processions to re-enact the holy family’s search for shelter.
Los Angelitos : Little Angels; a celebration durring Dia de los Muertos of children who have passed on.
Los Dias De Muertos : the days of the dead, October 28th through November 3rd
Los Reyes Magos : Three Kings Day, January 6th
Luces de Belen : sparklers
Misa de Gallo : The Rooster’s Mass on Christmas eve. In the 16th century, Father Pedro de Gante took stories of the rooster from the Aztec traditions and combined them with the story of Christ’s birth in order to better persuade the indians to convert to Catholisism.
Nacimiento: Nacimientos, home made nativity scenes, are traditionally the main decoration in family homes at Christmas time. Placed on tables and decorated with spanish moss, carved or clay images of the holy family and many other characters, Nacimientos are cherished altars.
Noche Buena : Christmas Eve, also the name of a beer made from the pointsettia.
Novena : a nine-day prayer series honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe
Ofrendas : Altars made by families dedicated to the spirits of their loved ones who have passed over. The altars are filled with offerings that gave joy to the departed person in life. The deceased loved ones favorite toys, foods, and drinks are common altar pieces.
Pastoras : shepherds and shepherdesses
Piñata : Marco Polo brought the idea of the piñata from China to Italy and many years later the piñata is a year round favorte for peoples of the Americas. The Latin prefix "piña" implies a cluster of flowers or fruits as in pineapples and pine cones the word pinata also derives from Italian word "pignatta", which means fragile pot. The Piñata has many spiritual meanings, both Catholic and Indian. The Aztecs and the Mayans had their own versions of Piñata games associated with Huitzilopochtli, the Sun God, and sports.
Originally, piñatas were fruit filled la olla (clay containers) but now piñatas come in all shapes and sizes; from the traditional star of Bethlehem shape to cartoon characters filled with candy and toys. A person is chosen to be blindfolded and is given a club to break the pinata if she or he can find it. The audience sings piñata songs and yell out directions to the blind participant. Once the Piñata is broken open, candies pour out and the audience rushes to gather the treats that have fallen to the floor. Anyone left without a treat is given a colaciones (basket of candy) to avoid hurt feelings.
Ponche : hot fruit punch served durring Noche Buena.
Reyes Magos : the Maji who brings presents to children on Los Reyes Magos.
Rosca de Reyes : A special sweet bread made on Los Reyes Magos, January 6th
Santos Peregrinos : holy pilgrims
Santos Reyes : the three kings
Sidra : cider
Villancicos : christmas carols
Back To Sonoran Desert Wisdom Home