Q:

What does Santa Claus look like in Mexico?

A:

Santa Claus in Mexico, or San Nicolas de Bari, appears much as other Santa Clauses throughout the world: an old man with a red coat. This red coat is represented by the bright red flowers of the poinsettia that is native to Mexico.

According to the St. Nicolas Center Organization, Mexico has a religious tradition, called ex-voto, where small paintings are placed as offerings in a chapel. Several of the paintings portrayed have likenesses of Saint Nicholas in which he appears with darker hair and scarlet religious robes.

Despite the emphasis of Santa Claus in some cultures, Mexicans consider it an imported tradition and celebrate Three Kings Day more enthusiastically. This holiday occurs on January 6 and it is when children traditionally receive gifts. They even right the three kings or Magi letters asking for a specific gift. According to tradition, children place the Magi in the nativity the night before and put hay in their shoes for the camels of the Magi. When they wake up, the hay is replaced with gifts. In reality, the gifts mostly appear beneath Christmas trees now. Some children get gifts on both Christmas Day and Three Kings Day. However, the nativity is not put away until February 2.


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