Want more Advent recipes, devotions, and traditions to try at home? Check out A Thrill of Hope: Celebrating Advent at Home (Revised and Expanded for 2020)!
Picture this. Every evening during the last nine days before Christmas, a great crowd forms in the village streets.
A small child dressed as an angel leads the figures of Joseph, Mary, and the donkey. Behind the figures, a procession follows made up of townspeople carrying candles and musicians playing carols.
The procession stops at different homes, where scriptures are read and traditional songs are sung, begging shelter for poor Mary and Joseph. At each stop, the people in the homes sing a traditional response refusing Mary and Joseph because there is “no room at the inn.”
Finally, on Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph find a home with an open door and a welcome.
The angel, Mary, and Joseph enter in and gather around a large cradle. The villagers follow and kneel around the nativity scene to pray. In the cradle, a figure of the infant Jesus is placed on a bed of straw and gently rocked while everyone around sings a traditional lullaby.
After songs and prayers, everyone gathers together for a huge celebration with carols, feasting, firecrackers, and a piñata.
This tradition, celebrated in many Spanish-speaking countries, is known as Las Posadas, which means “the inns.”
At the end of Las Posadas, the guests are served a feast of tamales, a hot drink called ponche and a type of fritter called buñuelos.
Try these traditional recipes for yourself! And, if you’d like more Advent recipes, devotions, and traditions, check out my book: A Thrill of Hope: Celebrating Advent at Home!
- 1 1/4 pounds pork loin
- 1 large onion, halved
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 dried California chile pods
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups masa harina
- 1 (10.5 ounce) can beef broth
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup lard
- 1 (8 ounce) package dried corn husks
- 1 cup sour cream
Place pork into a Dutch oven with onion and garlic, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the meat is cooked through, about 2 hours.
Use rubber gloves to remove stems and seeds from the chile pods. Place chiles in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. Transfer the chiles and water to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture, stir in salt, and set aside. Shred the cooked meat and mix in one cup of the chile sauce.
Soak the corn husks in a bowl of warm water. In a large bowl, beat the lard with a tablespoon of the broth until fluffy. Combine the masa harina, baking powder and salt; stir into the lard mixture, adding more broth as necessary to form a spongy dough.
Spread the dough out over the corn husks to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Place one tablespoon of the meat filling into the center. Fold the sides of the husks in toward the center and place in a steamer. Steam for 1 hour.
Remove tamales from husks and drizzle remaining chile sauce over. Top with sour cream. For a creamy sauce, mix sour cream into the chile sauce.
Buñuelos (Mexican Fritters)
16 (1 fritter) Servings
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons lard, melted and cooled
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
Anise Syrup (Optional):
- 2 cups water
- 8 ounces piloncillo, (panela), coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon grated lime peel
- 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- 2 teaspoons Anise Seed
For the Fritters, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Mix milk, egg, lard and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Gradually add flour mixture, stirring constantly to form a slightly sticky dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Incorporate additional flour, a tablespoon flour at a time, until dough is no longer sticky. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball. Place in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the Cinnamon Sugar, mix sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Set aside. For the Anise Syrup, mix water, piloncillo, lime peel, orange peel, cinnamon sticks and anise seed in heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan. Cook on medium heat 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve piloncillo. Bring to boil on medium-high heat. Boil 20 minutes or until syrup thinly coats a spoon. Strain and set aside at room temperature. (Anise Syrup can be made 3 to 4 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm before using.)
Roll each ball of dough into a 6-inch round on lightly floured surface. Stack dough rounds between wax paper or plastic wrap. Let stand 10 minutes.
Pour vegetable oil into heavy large skillet or saucepan to depth of 1 inch (about 2 cups oil). Heat oil on medium-high heat to 365°F to 370°F on deep-fry thermometer. Fry dough rounds, 1 at a time, for 2 minutes or until golden and puffed, turning once using tongs. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle each fritter with 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar mixture. Serve with warm Anise Syrup, if desired.
Ponche Navideño (Mexican Christmas Fruit Punch)
- 4 quarts water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 8 whole cloves
- 5 long tamarind pods, husk removed, and seeded or boil the entire pod to make removing easier
- ½ pound tejocotes or crab apples, left whole
- 6 large guavas, peeled and cut into large bite-size chunks
- 2 red apples (of your choice), peeled, cored, and cut into small bite-size chunks
- 1 pear (of your choice), peeled, cored, and cut into small bite-size chunks
- 2 (4-inch) sugarcane sticks, peeled and cut into small chunks
- 1 cup pitted prunes
- 1/2 cup dark raisins
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1 cone piloncillo, chopped or 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 ounce brandy or tequila per cup (optional)
In a large pot, over high heat, boil water, cinnamon sticks, cloves, tamarind, and tejocotes. After it starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the tejocotes are soft.
Remove the tejocotes from the heat, peel, remove hard ends, cut in half, and deseed. Return them to the pot.
Add guavas, apples, pears, sugar cane, prunes, orange slices, and piloncillo.
Simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring gently. Discard cinnamon sticks and cloves.
Ladle into cups, making sure each cup gets some chunks of fruit.
Add brandy or tequila to each cup (optional).
Again, make sure to check out Ashley Wallace’s book, A Thrill of Hope: Celebrating Advent at Home!
Featured image by Tomascastelazo, CC BY-SA 3.0.