A South Texas Christmas
By: Kim Young
The Christmas season, for many of us, is a favorite. This time of year in South Texas, looks a lot different than anywhere else, and for good reason. German, Mexican… a little Cajun, and the Old West have converged to create a very eclectic holiday season.
Our wreaths are barbed wire. We use cowboy boots and cactus as decorations, beat piñata’s and Rudolph is replaced at the front of Santa’s sleigh by Bevo or T-Bone.
We eat tamales and menudo, fried, baked or BBQ turkey, sausage, roast goose or duck, corn meal dressing and potato salad. We start the celebration as soon as we can get the Christmas Tree up…. usually before Thanksgiving.
Some hang exterior lights, put up nativity scenes or line the sidewalk with luminaries. We drink Wassail, sing Christmas carols, have parades, gain 10 pounds and of course, leave milk and cookies for Santa.
What is not different among the cultures is the gathering of family, worship of Jesus Christ, gift giving and the Three Wise Men.
I especially like the Posadas of Mexico, nine parties occurring one a day from the 16th until the 24th of December. The parties reenact Mary and Joseph asking for lodging before arriving at the manger. Half the party goers are innkeepers who stay inside. The other half are outside singing and asking for lodging in a candlelit procession that lasts until they reach the place of the party. Once everyone is gathered inside the party begins. Christmas carols, fruit punch (I wouldn’t be surprised if a little tequila is added), and a star-shaped piñata are part of the festivities.
The German influence, from which many American Christmas elements have come, such as the song, “Silent Night” was composed in Austria in 1818. The Advent calendar that starts December 1 is a German tradition. Kris Kringle came from Christkindl or “Christ Child”. It’s Christkindl who brings gifts on Christmas Eve in Germany. Thomas Nast (1840-1902), a German-American political cartoonist, created the modern image of Santa Claus in the 1860s.
At Christmas time, you’ll have the Texas cowboy enjoying a good country band, boot scootin’ on the dance floor, or in the roping ring followed by a huge potluck dinner, and gifts under a big majestic Christmas tree.
But what I love best about a South Texas Christmas, are the big Texas hearts and giving spirits towards the less fortunate. There’s nothing like Christmas in South Texas.