¡Feliz Navidad! ¡Glædelig Jul! ¡Merry Christmas! to all my friends and readers. May you enjoy a peaceful and loving holiday with family and friends. I thought I’d post a few pictures from Mexico City’s Zócalo, showing the holiday decorations. Unfortunately, I am not there, but these pictures are from years past, and the decorations change little from year to year. I’ll also write a little bit about my family’s own, Danish Christmas traditions.

Zocalo from Best Western_MG_3272 from Raw

Typically the city installs an ice skating rink (pista de hielo – very suitable for the tropics), and festoons the various government buildings with myriad decorations showing things like the snow-covered volcanoes around the city including Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl, poinsettias, piñatas, gifts, candles, and other symbols of the season.

Wall of Zocalo_MG_3319 fr RAW

The electric poinsettias (or Noche Buenas) are beautiful. I’ve always thought the shot below would make a nice Christmas card if I could ever get around to having them printed.

Poinsettias in Zocalo_MG_3313_1_2

And of course, no Mexico City Christmas display would be complete without a perfectly conical Christmas “tree.” As you can see, the Zócalo is thronged with people.

Zocalo Christmas Tree_MG_3280

Meanwhile, I’m near San Francisco, enjoying a sunny, 70° day. Later, I’ll join my extended family for the first of several Christmas celebrations. Due to our Danish heritage, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve, with a very traditional dinner of roasted goose, red potatoes, pickled red cabbage (not unlike sauerkraut), and the most traditional item of all, riesengrød, (pronounced ree-sen-grodth) a warm rice pudding. Each person gets a serving, and one lucky person will find a blanched almond. The finder of the blanched almond gets a special, small gift like a box of chocolates, or marzipan, or something similar. Part of the game is trying to guess who’s got the almond. The person who discovers it is supposed to keep it a secret as long as possible, and there are many rounds of joking around about who has it, who has won it too many times in the past, who’s never won it, etc. It’s a simple, but fun tradition. We eat the riesengrød with a pat of butter and cinnamon sugar. It’s a first course, as Denmark wasn’t always a rich country, and it is filling, and cuts the cost of the Christmas dinner. Now, of course, it’s not to save money, but a fun tradition.  We usually also have a separate almond and gifts for the kids too.

Danish Christmas Tree Cropped

Our tree is also somewhat different. Instead of lights, we use candles. But we only light them once, and once lit, we have a fire extinguisher at hand, sing our carols around the tree, and then blow out the candles. Fortunately we’ve never had a fire. Some Danes have “flex-fuel” trees with electric lights too. The tree is also decorated with hand-made decorations. Danes traditionally weave little paper hearts out of shiny colored paper, and also little cones. We hang these on the tree, sometimes with hazel nuts inside to give them shape and weight. We also have streamers of little Danish flags for the the tree.

So I’ll soon be heading out to join the rest of the family at my sister’s, where I also get to meet my youngest nephew for the first time. (He was born right after Christmas 2012).  I’ll catch up with my parents, and see the rest of my siblings too. It should be fun.

I wish you a happy Danish-American-Mexican Christmas!!! What are some of your special traditions?