Mexican Decoration in the Holiday Season

I must admit that, after having become accustomed to the the widespread gaudiness (of course, it is a matter of opinion!) of decoration in Mexico, I expected the Christmas season to bring some truly spectacularly kitschy public displays.  After all, back home in the states, people seem to revel in the “spirit” of the holidays, with entire neighborhoods lathering sheets of blinking lights, monument-sized, air-filled, blowing snow globes, and six-foot, animated, plastic reindeer.  

But here in México, D.F., it almost seemed as if, given my expectations, that holiday decoration was, well, tasteful.  Most buildings had (relatively) little external decoration, with most of the effort spent on decorating trees placed in living rooms and expansive nativity scenes, proudly displayed on fireplace mantles.   That’s not to say that there weren’t hordes of little robotic singing Santa figures for sale at local markets and plenty of evidence of the holiday’s commercialization… but the general absence of glaring lights and gaudy lawn displays seemed to make the holiday and the “holiday spirit” feel, well, more genuine.

One of the most festive parts of the holiday are seasonal markets that spring up on street corners and, especially, around the permanent neighborhood markets in the center of many of the colonias.

...dozens of holiday stalls filled the porticos around the market in Escandón....

...dozens of holiday stalls filled the porticos around the market in Escandón....

The market in Escandón seemed to double in size, as perhaps three or four dozen stalls opened up under the porticos along José Martí, selling everything from warm ponche, fried potatoes and plantains, and the more ubiquitous quesadillas, tortas, and tacos to gifts, wrapping paper, and Christmas trees.  Some of the more interesting stalls sold supplies for nativity scenes, with little figurines, toy ceramic houses, and sheets of various dried mosses and lichens that are used to landscape the scenes.

In the center of the city, the zócalo was also dressed for the holidays, with large scaffolds of lights covering the government buildings surrounding the plaza, a huge decorative tree, and interactive displays and rides… even a sledding hill and an ice rink.  In the afternoons and evenings, the zócalo would fill with people coming to experience the spectacle, festive crowds adding to the energy of the moment.

 

México, D.F.

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