Christmas is coming! With this, a large number of traditional celebrations related to the birth of Jesus are also carried out, which in Mexico is affectionately nicknamed “Little God”.
The veneration of the Little God in Mexico dates from the 16th century, after the Conquest. Among the main traditions is that each family has one or more of its own figures, which will be presented in the temple during the Good night. For this party, it is customary to remove the icon’s clothes and wrap it in small blankets, because after midnight mass the figurine will be lulled to sleep, symbolizing its birth. It is common for worship to be accompanied by Christmas carols and the lighting of Bengal lights, a symbol of divine light and the star of Bethlehem.
Finally, after lulling the religious icon, it will become part of the birth or nativity scene of each home. Strict tradition dictates that he must remain there until his next party, the February 2, Candlemas Day.
The traditions related to the Little God are one of the most deeply rooted in Mexico, since the pre-Hispanic peoples already used to use idols with volume to represent their divinities. However, the cult is not reduced to it, since there are also other celebrations of an artistic nature such as the pastorelas, whose first version was The Adoration of the Magi, written in Nahuatl by Fray Andrés de Olmos. Later, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, the first bishop from New Spain, recognized the pastorelas as a form of evangelization and internalizing devotion to the Little God among the indigenous people.
Little God Child or Divine Child; Baby Jesus Christmas gift giver
One of the traditions that attracts the most attention is the illusion created by parents that the Little God hands out gifts during Christmas or Three Kings Day.
The tradition has two origins: the first one is the biblical passage in which the magi attend to adore the baby Jesus with gifts. As a consequence of his goodness and divine origin, the Little God would share these gifts with the other infants. The second is an emulation of Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus, a religious from the fourth century who shared his birth with orphans. The fact that it is Jesus who distributes the gifts in the festivities is about a strengthening of the celebration of the birth of Christ.
For this reason, it is common to hear in some regions of Mexico the phrase “What did the Child Jesus bring you?”
The Child God of the Rosca de Reyes
Likewise, another of the customs that accompanies the Little God is the Rosca de Reyes, celebrated a few days after Christmas. On this date it is celebrated that the Child God was adored by the Magi, the animals and all those who came to see him and give him gifts.
The tradition dates back to the 17th century in France, a time when a bean was added to the bagel. Currently it is common to hide a plastic Little God Child in the bread, a symbol of the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt to save Christ from Herod. Whoever finds the doll will be responsible for the celebration of Candlemas Day with tamales and the child’s new clothing.
Rodrigo Osegueda Philosopher by training. Contemplate the soul and imagination of Mexico.