Traditional festivities are celebrated in the month of December throughout Mexico and Puerto Vallarta is no exception, starting the month with the colorful Guadalupano celebrations, followed by Christmas and ending with a bang at New Year’s Eve.

Guadalupe Church

Guadalupano pilgrimages (peregrinaciones) in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe are celebrated on Calle Juarez in downtown Puerto Vallarta leading to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. This nine day novena leading up to December 12 always holds a special place in the heart of Puerto Vallarta.

For centuries, the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Patron Saint of Mexico, has been revered by the people in Mexico. She appeared to Juan Diego on December 12, 1531 and her cloak to this day remains framed in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

These nightly pilgrimages are colorful affairs with community groups and organizations marching in costumes and singing and dancing as they proceed to the church to pay homage to the Virgin. The Mariachi bands and other musical groups are out in full force.

Along the route of the procession, traditional Mexican food is sold such as pozole (traditional soup made from corn hominy), tamales, enchiladas, tacos, all kinds of cakes and sweet breads.

Each year, I like to go downtown one night and view the pilgrimages and eat some delicious tamales. Puerto Vallarta tamales are very different that what I ate in Texas, but I love the tamales of rajas de chile poblano (strips of poblano peppers).

From December 16 until Christmas Eve, there are a series of gatherings and parties called Posadas (from the word for inn). Family and friends and neighbors gather at each others’ homes to celebrate the season. Tamales and other traditional Mexican food is served and the houses are decorated with Noche Buenas (poinsettias) which originate from Mexico. A piñata is broken by the children. A Nativity Scene is displayed in the home or oftentimes in the front garden, but the baby Jesus is not in his crib (until Christmas morning). A wonderful drink called Rompope is served, it is very similar to eggnog.

New Year’s Eve in Puerto Vallarta is spectacular. The whole bay lights up at midnight with fireworks, it is truly a sight to behold. Any location with a view of the bay is a good place to be. Many people have parties in their homes and friends gather on the terrace or balcony to view the show. Or course the champagne is flowing. One word of advice, have arrangements to get home as there are NO TAXIS available that night after midnight. Or course, the taxi drivers are all enjoying the parties as well!!

And of course, the weather in December is glorious with warm days and pleasant evenings. The only “White Christmas” we will ever see are whitecaps on the ocean. Spending Christmastime at the beach is devine.

Feliz Navidad de Puerto Vallarta Mexico !!

Russell Falkner