A: Aguinaldo

It can be a much-appreciated Christmas bonus at your job, or  a sugar-laden bag of candy at a party. Either way, I’ll take it!

B: Bacalao

A traditional Christmas dish consisting of salted fish with olives and other condiments. People seem to either love or hate it, but I’ve never tried it.

C: Chipotles navideños

My favorite holiday food: giant chipotle peppers stuffed with cheese, dipped in egg, and fried. They’re the best the day after Christmas (or New Year’s), when you can use them for sandwich filling, like turkey and cranberry after Thanksgiving.

D: Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe

In the days leading up to Dec. 12th, you’ll see scores of hikers and cyclists moving in large caravans towards Mexico City. They’re all going to the Basílica de Guadalupe to see the Virgin on her day.

Shrines like these are common at businesses or on roadsides.

Shrines like these are common at businesses or on roadsides.

Children are dressed as Juan Diego (for boys), or indigenous girls, to celebrate when Juan Diego saw the Virgin and she left her image on his cape.

Children are dressed as Juan Diego (for boys), or indigenous girls, to celebrate when Juan Diego saw the Virgin and she left her image on his cape.

In a church.

In a church.

E: Elefante

“Why elephant?,” you wonder. Because in most traditional nativity scenes, one of the three Kings arrives on an elephant! You can bet you’ll see him mounted on his elephant in at least one Zócalo (town or city square).

F: Farolitos

Christmas lanterns for decorating your nativity scene/street/etc.

G: Guayaba

You use this fruit to make ponche, a syrupy drink served hot with cinnamon sticks and sugar cane. (Tip: If you have a sweet tooth, pop the sugar cane pieces into your mouth and chew on them!)

All the fruit, simmering away!

All the fruit, simmering away!

H: Hacer una peregrinación

Making a pilgrammage, like those who go to see the Virgen de Guadalupe.

I: Incienso

Incense, one of the items that the Three Kings brought. Again, if you go to a traditional Christmas party or visit any city square, you’ll find the Kings in sizes ranging from two inches to six feet tall, all lined up waiting to see baby Jesus in an elaborate nativity scene. You might even find a live King waiting to take a photo with your child.

J: Jícama

Tiny jícamas are used as part of the filling for piñatas. Just don’t let them fall on your head when the piñata breaks!

K: Kilos

Yes, kilos for the extra weight you’ll put on once you eat all the delicious holiday dishes available here!

L: Luces de bengala

Sparklers that you’ll use during your Christmas party as you sing to the Baby Jesus in your nativity scene.

Children singing at a Christmas party.

Children singing at a Christmas party.

M: Mandarinas

The ubiquitous end-of-year mandarin orange– another piñata filling, but these won’t leave a big bump on your head.