Give Your Holiday a Latin Christmas Touch
Even though many Hispanic Americans have included elements of both, American and Hispanic cultures, Hispanic Christmas decorations continue to be mainly centered on religious and spiritual themes.
The Catholic faith plays a strong role among Hispanics who celebrate Christmas mainly as the birth of “El Niño Jesus” or baby Jesus; that is why “Las Navidades” or Christmas time has “pesebres” or manger scenes throughout.
“El pesebre” takes center stage especially in South American countries, where it reunites the family, who during the holiday builds it up until “Nochebuena” -Christmas Eve- or until the arrival of the Three Kings on January 6.
In addition to religious symbols, Hispanic Christmas decorations include displays of white and red candles on tables. We light the candles during the traditional “Nochebuena” dinner, and while doing the “novena” each of the nine days.
Hispanic Christmas Trees
Artificial Christmas trees are the norm for Hispanic Christmas decorations in many of our home countries, with green Christmas trees more common than white ones.
Many Hispanics celebrating Christmas in the U.S. adopted fresh-cut pine or fir trees as we mix both the American and the Hispanic traditions while celebrating the holiday.
We love to decorate with anything we can think of: balls, beads, and especially hand-made ornaments by artisans from the countries we come from originally.
True Latin Christmas Decorations
Hispanic Christmas decorations include ornaments that are widely recognized for their beautifully handcrafted style, some made of glass, straw, gourd, pottery, and even coal.
There are many towns throughout Central and South America that are artisan centers. These beautiful towns produce magnificent Christmas ornaments that give Hispanic touches to the festivities. For example: the Virgin Mary is made to have braids and a typical dress from the region.
Representations of the Nativity, “las posadas”-literally meaning inns, or rather the recreation of Mary and Joseph’s search for room at the inn-the angels, the star that we place on top of the tree, the Three Kings, etc., are all a “must” when decorating Hispanic style.
The Presents or “Los Regalos”
Presents are part of Hispanic Christmas decor, just like in the U.S. For adults we strategically place them under the tree, and “Baby Jesus” places the presents for the kids generally close to their beds on “Nochebuena.” As you may have noticed for Hispanics, it is baby Jesus, not Santa Claus, who brings the gifts.
Candles, Lights and Luminarias
Lights are a big hit! Hispanic Christmas is not complete without the lights. Native Americans in New Mexico started a series of small fires outside churches and pueblos and this tradition became the famous “Luminarias”.
Red and white candles decorate tables and fireplaces. Also electric lights hang in the windows and balconies through Hispanic towns. Hispanics use all kinds of Christmas lights to decorate the tree, the windows of their homes and anything else they may want.
In Mexico it is very common to light small paper “faroles”-lanterns-to illuminate the road for baby Jesus to arrive with the presents.
The themes for the lights revolve around religious topics like angels or doves signifying The Holy Spirit, crosses, candles, and symbols of abundance like grapes, since we celebrate the New Year also within the Christmas season.
Incredibly beautiful Christmas light decorations became the norm in the city of Medellín, Colombia, where the kick off is on December 7 with the celebration of the “Virgen De La Inmaculada Concepción” -Virgin of The Immaculate Conception.
The gigantic Christmas lights fascinate tourists and residents alike on main roads and all along the river that crosses the valley where the city is located.
Hispanic Christmas decorations vary from country to country but one aspect is important among all Hispanics while decorating their homes for the holidays: religious themes are present throughout our homes from the Christmas tree to the “pesebre”.
This year you too can include some of the elements of Hispanic Christmas decorations to make your holiday celebration a bit more Latino style!