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Why Do Latinos Celebrate Christmas On The 24th?

Culture & Community By O. DELGADO
Why Do Latinos Celebrate Christmas On The 24th?

Across Latin America and the United States, Latinos celebrate Christmas on the 24th.

In many Latin American countries, the Christmas season begins with the Celebration of the Virgen de Guadalupe, a nine-day novena that starts on December 3rd and culminates in the Virgen's feast day on the 12th. 

Then come Las Posadas, from December 16th all the way up until the Christmas Eve on the 24th.  Las Posadas literally means "the inns", referring to the inns where Mary and Joseph asked for shelter. 

During a posada, children and families re-enact the story of Mary and Joseph, parading through their neighborhood and stopping at different houses to ask for shelter.  The tradition was started by Spanish priests to teach indigenous Americans about Christianity.

Turns out, Spanish priests are also the reason Latinos have their main fiesta on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day.

The priests brought the tradition of midnight mass with them from Spain, where for centuries Catholics have attended La Misa del Gallo, "The Mass of the Rooster," so called because a rooster supposedly crowed when Jesus was born. 

"Esta noche es Noche Buena, y no es noche de dormir," goes a traditional Spanish saying. 

So, basically, we're staying up until the cock crows at midnight to proclaim that Jesus has been born, the same way we stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve to ring in the New Year.

Just count it as one of the many benefits of being Latino - we get to celebrate Christmas two days in a row!