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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Mérida decks the halls in time for Christmas

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

Christmas is a big deal in Mérida. But after the lackluster 2020 holiday season, people in the city seem to be getting more excited than ever. 

Couples and families from across Mérida flocked last weekend to Mérida’s downtown to take in the Christmas-themed attractions. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Christmas markets have popped up along several points in the city, especially during weekends and despite Mexico’s economic woes, stores seem to be more full than ever.

This year’s shopping season kicked off in late November during the annual Buen Fin sale weekend. Long lines could be seen at several Mérida stores including Costco on Prolongacion Paseo de Montejo. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The city’s parks and public spaces, as well as a great many roundabouts, have received the Christmas treatment from City Hall — as well as several corporate sponsors. 

What would Christmas be without corporate displays like these? Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

As is the case every year, Mérida’s Paseo de Montejo and Calle 60 have been fitted with Christmas lights and decorations, bringing a little extra magic to these already beautiful and historic avenues. 

The festively lit entrance to the Christmas village on the Remate, the spot that marks the start of Paseo de Montejo. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The Remate has been fitted, as its tradition, with a large Christmas tree and several spots for fun family portraits and selfies.

Though most of the decorations on display in the city would be recognizable to virtually anyone around the world, others have a more distinctive Mexican flair. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Also returning this year are a large number of vendors, selling tasty treats and crafts — many of which are sure to show up under Christmas trees. 

One of the many festive decorations set up by City hall in Mérida’s parks. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

A decade or so ago, when the large roundabout on Prolongacion Paseo de Montejo was christened the “Glorieta de la Paz,” locals joked that it was and forever would be the “Burger King Glorietta.” It would appear that Burger King agrees with this assessment. 

Next time someone tries to correct you about the “proper” name of this roundabout, you could always just show them this photo. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Also back after a conspicuous absence in Mérida’s parks and shopping malls, is the big man himself — Santa Claus. 

Santa Claus makes an appearance in the Concha Acustica in el Parque de las Américas. But it would seem children will have to content themselves with a high five or fist bump instead of the usual sit on Santa’s lap or warm embrace. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Also making its appearance in time for the holiday is Mérida’s largest Christmas tree, located in a large shopping center complex in the north of town. But just like last year, the Coca-cola sponsored Christmas fair featuring shows and treats for kids seems to have been canceled. 

Locals like to joke that the massive tree is not really a Christmas tree, as it takes so long to set up and takedown, that in reality, it is up in some form for a third of the year. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Grocery stores around the city are well stocked with holiday favorites including rompope, an eggnog-like drink made with eggs, milk, and vanilla flavoring, and roscas de reyes — which are traditionally enjoyed after Christmas on Jan 6. 

Individually sized roscas de reyes on sale for those who simply don’t want to wait until Jan. 6. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Although this years’ Christmas will certainly not mark an absolute return to normal for the holiday, most people are feeling comfortable enough to up the ante on their celebrations — but social distancing protocols are not likely to be lifted until next year at the earliest. At least Yucatecos won’t have to endure the traditional double-wet kiss favored by the state’s aunts and grandmothers.

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