Five Ways to Latinofy the Holidays December 11 2011

If you have little ones and want to expose them to a little bit of Latino culture, here's a few ways to Latinofy the holidays.

5. Abuelita Hot Chocolate

These cinnamon-infused chocolate tablets make the best hot chocolate during Christmas time. I just break up the big piece of chocolate -- which is not easy to do -- and then I put the smaller pieces in the blender to really grind them. Then I pour some regular milk and evaporated milk into a large pot on the stovetop, stir in the chocolate, and let it dissolve. The final touch: I add more cinnamon flavor by throwing a few cinnamon sticks in the simmering milk and letting the flavor seep through. One word: delish.

4. Acostar y Arrullar the Big Baby Jesus

Typically, you wait until Noche Buena to do this, but we've already put our Baby Jesus (like a BIG ONE) under the tree, much to our toddler's delight. She loves this over-sized baby and is always putting her little Kai-Lan and Olivia dolls next to him to sleep, too.

3. Virgen de Guadalupe Celebration

It's not a Christmas holiday, but the wonderful Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe happens during the holiday season. It's the day that the blessed Virgen appeared to the peasant indigena Juan Diego in 1531 in Tepeyac, Mexico. I think it's just in my DNA to love this celebration, especially when there are mariachis who play Las Mañanitas. Last year, we visited the Basilica here in Washington, DC, and I dressed my toddler up as Juan Dieguita so that she could pay homage and leave roses at OLG's shrine.

2. Las Posadas

This re-enactment of Mary and Joseph's trek to Bethlehem, and their search for an inn, or posada, runs from Dec. 16 through the 24th. Growing up we would celebrate these in my hometown. I especially like the call and response song: Eeeen el nombre del cieeeeeelo, ooooos pido posaaaada/ Pues, no puede andaaaaaaar, mi querida espooooooosa. I really wish we could do this here, but in a city it can be a challenge.

1. Tamales

Mexican tamalitos are synonymous with the holiday season to me. In my hometown, they are often made with venison, as the winter is deer-hunting season. Now that I'm older and I have to really watch the calories, I try to only have them for a special occasion, like a holiday party! My mom brought up a suitcase full from Texas (literally, she had to rearrange her suitcases at the airport because it weighed a whopping 65 lbs.). This weekend, we shared about five dozen tamales -- chicken, pork, and jalapeno and cream cheese -- with friends and family who came over to our home (see pic, toddler had a blast). As I like to say: Los tamales compartidos son mas ricos y divertos.