sometimes paradise is a Christmas full moon…

courtesy of facebook.com/zenzibeach

courtesy of facebook.com/zenzibeach

How perfect there is a full moon this Christmas (La Navidad con luna llena).!! Just beautiful.

Enjoy the holidays…enjoy your family and friends..enjoy the magic 🙂

nochebuena

courtesy of urbanext.illinois.edu

courtesy of urbanext.illinois.edu

Merry Christmas Eve.!! Feliz Nochebuena.!! I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season.!! And for those of you who are expecting presents from Santa, I hope he’s good to you 🙂 Before, I go and enjoy the festivities, I think a history lesson might be in order. Nochebuena directly translates into ‘a good night.’ However, it indirectly translates into Christmas Eve.! But nochebuena also has another very important meaning.! It is our traditional Christmas flower – the poinsettia.!!

Nochebuena originated in Mexico.!! Originally, it was used by the Aztecs for it’s deep red color in dyes and in purity rituals. Mexicans began to use the flower in holiday celebrations during the 16th to 18th centuries also because of it’s deep vibrant color. But also because it’s flowering season directly coincided with the holiday one 🙂 During the presidency of James Monroe, a botanical expert by the name of Joel Roberts Pointsett was named prime minister of the United States in Mexico (ambassadorships were to follow later).

I’m sure you can figure out the rest dear reader just by good ole’ Joel’s last name. Pointsett took nochebuena back to the states and renamed it poinsettia.!! And the rest is Christmas history my dear friends.!! Nochebuena is now one of the biggest symbols of the Christmas season.!! Most poinsettias in the U.S. originate on Mexican farms. So it all comes full circle.! Merry Christmas.!! ¡Feliz Navidad! Please enjoy Jose Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad.!! See you over the weekend 🙂

I’m dreaming of a beach Christmas….

Last year, we had a really (I mean really) cold winter.!! I never could seem to get warm enough. And I thought about Mexico and how warm it is living in playa during the holidays. This year, from what I’ve heard, Chicago is going to have the worst winter on record since 1905 or something like that.!! Geesh.! Can’t a girl catch a break.?!? In preparation, I bought some rugged Canadian kick winter’s ass boots.! And they arrived today.! There is a small part of me that’s looking forward to wearing them and having snow ball fights. And then of course, there’s always a part of me that’s dreaming of a beach Christmas…. So I thought we would take a walk back in time and see how I felt about this time last year 🙂

howdoyousaytacoinspanish

courtesy of Facebook.com/PlayadelCarmen.RivieraMaya paamul beach courtesy of Facebook.com/PlayadelCarmen.RivieraMaya

I have spent the last two Christmas’ in Mexico. It became my new tradition after leaving the states. The weather was usually a balmy 72 degrees, I had a nice tan, and somewhere on me there was always a wayward piece of sand.! I loved wearing a tank top, skirt, and flip flops everywhere I went. After growing up in the midwest my whole life, I didn’t miss that crazy weather one iota during the holidays.!!

Last night, I found myself sitting in my car in Chicago for 15 minutes while the defrost worked strenuously to melt the frozen ice on the inside of my windshield.! It was a balmy 0 degrees in Chicago – please note the sarcasm in my voice.! haha… I had on many layers of clothes, boots, scarves….etc…etc… Except for the radio playing, I was bored to death in the car…

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I’m dreaming of a beach Christmas….

courtesy of Facebook.com/PlayadelCarmen.RivieraMaya

paamul beach courtesy of Facebook.com/PlayadelCarmen.RivieraMaya

I have spent the last two Christmas’ in Mexico. It became my new tradition after leaving the states. The weather was usually a balmy 72 degrees, I had a nice tan, and somewhere on me there was always a wayward piece of sand.! I loved wearing a tank top, skirt, and flip flops everywhere I went. After growing up in the midwest my whole life, I didn’t miss that crazy weather one iota during the holidays.!!

Last night, I found myself sitting in my car in Chicago for 15 minutes while the defrost worked strenuously to melt the frozen ice on the inside of my windshield.! It was a balmy 0 degrees in Chicago – please note the sarcasm in my voice.! haha… I had on many layers of clothes, boots, scarves….etc…etc… Except for the radio playing, I was bored to death in the car waiting for the ice to melt, so I took some selfies.! One selfie is included below 🙂 And I thought about Mexico…

me for Christmas this year

me during Christmas this year

Christmas in Mexico is all about Christmas Eve which actually is very similar to Croatian traditions. I remember my supervisor being very surprised that I actually wanted Christmas day off and was willing to work Christmas Eve.! That took about a week of convincing, but I managed to get the day off.! I had friends in town visiting plus all my other friends were coming over for dinner. Moreover, I had a big turkey to cook and I needed to be home.!

In Mexico, however, families get together for dinner or lunch on Christmas Eve. All festivities lead up to midnight. The focus in Mexico is on el noche buena or the good night which ends with the families going to midnight mass together. After mass, there are more parties and relatives to visit. Presents can be exchanged before mass or after.! Sometimes, gift giving goes on before and after midnight.! And there are always tamales.!! Yummy..!!!

Christmas in playa

Christmas in playa

One of the reasons for the day early celebration is because Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and wrapped presents are not traditional parts of Mexican culture. Parents don’t ask their children what they want Santa to bring them, they ask what their children want el nino dios or the baby Jesus to bring them. So there is no reason to leave cookies and milk for Santa because he’s not coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve.! Christmas Day is usually spent sleeping in, eating leftovers including tamales, and visiting extended family.

However, in my family we celebrated both in keeping with our Croatian tradition and our new American tradition. So since most of my close friends in playa were American or British, plus my Mexican friends weren’t doing anything on Christmas Day, I decided to have a dinner party. It was phenomenal.! The turkey turned out just perfect, the mashed potatoes were delicious, and my British roommate made Yorkshire pudding (which by the way is not a dessert).! And of course there was lots of wine, and real dessert, and great conversation.!!

me in playa for Christmas last year

me in playa for Christmas last year

Afterwards, I went to La Azotea with my friend D. and his friend.! La Azotea is one of my favorite bars in playa.! It’s a rooftop bar on the fourth floor and you can see Cozumel day or night. We had many banderas that evening – tequila shots with lime juice and Sangrita.!! Yummy.!!! The photo above is from that night at La Azotea. We had a blast.! Can you believe I had been deathly ill just days before.!?!

I have been thinking about last year’s Christmas a lot the last few days. I have been missing playa, the beach, and the satisfaction of having made a new home for myself so far away from Chicago. But so many events have happened dear reader since last year that it is now impossible to return. And so as I sat in my car last night waiting for the ice to thaw and taking photos of myself, I realized I have to make new traditions now that I have returned. There is no more going backwards, it’s only about moving forward. So many good things are waiting to happen and I can’t wait to tell you about them.! And I can’t wait until next Christmas when I can tell you all about my new traditions.! Until then, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad y Sretan Božić.!! I hope Santa is good to each and every one of you 🙂