A few bloggers have recently provided personal accounts of spending Thanksgiving in Mexico, and what it means to them. The general gist being, it’s not quite the same in Mexico as it is the good ole US of A. But then I dare say that there was little expectation it would be. Thanksgiving isn’t an event in Mexico. If it were, it would probably be called Smallpox Day, or Massexecution Day or perhaps even Silverlooting Day.
They’d probably rather roast a Spaniard over hot coals for dinner, than roast a turkey. The indigenous peoples in both the US and Mexico shared similar fates at the hands of the invading Europeans. The difference being, the ones south of the Rio Bravo tend to prefer to identify themselves with the pre-Hispanic tribes. The world north of the border definitely identifies itself with/is dominated by the European settlers. Hence, very different takes on their respective experiences of colonisation.
But still, I do remember the comparisons I made as a Brit living in Mexico. I wasn’t entirely astonished to discover that Guy Fawkes Day isn’t celebrated on November 5th. In fact, it was probably best to keep quiet about that one. Other UKcentric festivals aren’t of much interest to Mexicans unless they are music festivals. The two countries do have some shared holidays though. The biggie of the bunch is almost upon us – Christmas.
Christmas in Mexico took some getting used to. To say the least. Warm, sunny days with blue skies somehow didn’t feel quite right. Christmas is meant to be dark, cold and bleak but brightly lit. Salted fish for Christmas dinner instead of Turkey didn’t seem terribly Christmassy either. All in all, for the first Christmas or two, I could just as well have been on Mars as in Mexico City. I properly felt like the alien I was. But I did get used to it. Then I grew to love Christmas in DF. It’s not the same as it is in the UK. I just needed to stop comparing the two experiences. And if I missed a British Christmas, there’s always the TV ads on YouTube to give me that Christmassy feeling.
Of course, there were some big pluses to Mexican Christmases. Now that I’m back in dark, cold and bleak England, the idea of warm sunny days suddenly seems very appealing. The Christmas dinners were awesome. Except for the *dessert, which usually sucked. I used to get the best part of three weeks off over Christmas. That was nice. The atmosphere was far better as well. Christmas has its commercial side in Mexico, but that it’s a family and religious holiday still seems to be the dominant theme.
Everyone spends so much time decorating everything too. They do so much more on a limited budget. In the UK, we seem to spend more money just dragging the same old knackered crap onto the town square every December. Trafalgar Square in the centre of London hosts the most famous Xmas tree in the country, but it’s a cheap looking collection of twigs. It might well be a real tree, but I prefer Mexican Christmas trees. Fake? Check. Sponsored by Pepsi? Check. Switched on by a greasy politician? Check. Bloody fantastic? Check. Biggest Christmas ever in the whole wide world? This is Mexico….so of course. Check. I remember it well, and still have the video I shot to prove it…
I don’t need to tell you that I miss Mexico. I still feel more Mexican than British. But I didn’t expect that I’d miss Mexican Christmases so much. It turns out that I do. There’s a caveat to this. I write from the Bournemouth, UK perspective. The London, UK perspective is a different matter. Christmas in central London is awesome. We have our trips booked. There will be the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House and a trip to the Christmas markets on the South Bank for roasted chestnuts and mulled wine.
Then there’s a Christmas Spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall. A day in Greenwich, with a trip down the Thames on a cruise boat. And then there will be ice skating on a large rink in the Winter Wonderland site in Hyde Park. Which is a far more appropriate place for an outdoor ice rink than the absolutely mental rink they put up in the Zocalo. I would still love to know how much it costs to keep a rink frozen in the tropics? Screw it. Who cares. I like a bit of mental from time to time. So Merry Navidad. Or Feliz Christmas. Whichever takes your fancy.
*everyone who came to the dinner would bring a dish. I would bring dessert. Fortunately, there was always at least one fat kid there whose greed was a more powerful force than his tastebuds.