N: Nacimiento

A nativity scene of clay figurines, often decorated with real moss.

O: Ollas

Ollas, or clay pots, are what traditional piñatas are made of, though many are now made simply of newspaper paper mache. Did you know that a piñata has seven “arms” to represent the seven deadly sins?

Lights decorating one of the buildings in Mexico City's Zócalo. Look at all the candy falling out of that piñata!

Lights decorating one of the buildings in Mexico City’s Zócalo. Look at all the candy falling out of that piñata!

P: Ponche, posadas, piquete, piñata, pastorela, paxtle

So many words with P! Ponche, as I mentioned in the last post, is a delicious, syrupy drink filled with chunks of fruit and sugar cane, all served hot. Posadas are traditional Christmas parties. Piquete is for that dash of tequila or other hard liquor that you add to your ponche. Piñata is, of course, the tissue-paper-covered creation that you beat with a stick until all the candy, mandarin oranges, jícamas, sugar cane pieces, and peanuts fall out (and then you scramble on the ground to get as many treats as possible). Pastorela is a performance, usually done by children at schools, of the Biblical nativity scene. And paxtle is Spanish moss, which you use to decorate your nativity scene.

A traditional posada, complete with piñata, nacimiento (nativity scene) with paxtle, and luces de bengala (sparklers).

A traditional posada, complete with piñata, nacimiento (nativity scene) with paxtle, and luces de bengala (sparklers).

Get ready to fight for the candy!

Get ready to fight for the candy!

Another traditional aspect-- to re-enact Mary and Joseph's search for shelter, guests at a Christmas party must sing to ask for posada (shelter).

Another traditional aspect– to re-enact Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter, guests at a Christmas party must sing to ask for posada (shelter).

Q: Queso

Queso manchego to fill the chipotles before they’re dipped in egg and fried. My favorite Christmas food!

R: Reyes Magos, recalentado

The Three Kings, who leave gifts for children on January 6th. And the recalentado the day after Christmas and New Year’s, when you re-heat all the food and have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Everything can be re-heated and stuffed into a torta (roll)!

Everything can be re-heated and stuffed into a torta (roll)!

S: Sidra

Sparkling cider for New Year’s toasts!

T: Tamales

Tamales are a year-round treat, and you’ll probably have them over the holidays, too.

U: Uvas

12 grapes for the 12 months of the new year!

V: Villancicos

Christmas carols.

W: Whiskey

There wasn’t much else that started with W. And you’ll definitely find whiskey at both Christmas and New Year’s parties.

X: Xochimilco

Ok, this doesn’t have much to do with Christmas, except that in Xochimilco (part of Mexico City) they sell noche buenas (poinsettas) during the holidays.

A noche buena with a nacimiento (nativity scene) in the background.

A noche buena with a nacimiento (nativity scene) in the background.

Y: Yoyo

A traditional toy (yes, a yo-yo) that you might get from the Three Kings.

Z: Zapato

Because you write your letter to the Three Kings or Santa, and then you leave it in your shoe for them to find.

A special thanks to my friend Gerry for helping me to complete the list!