Senior Emily Chairez spends holidays in Mexico with extended family


Emily Chairez

The sun sets on the horizon in Zacatecas, where senior Emily Chairez spent winter break with her extended family.

Marta Bourget, Staff Writer

The holiday season: perfect for time spent celebrating with relatives. This is no different for senior Emily Chairez, even if those relatives live nearly 2,000 miles away.
“This holiday season, I went to Mexico, where my parents are from. It’s called Zacatecas, it’s like right smack dab in the middle of Mexico,” Chairez said. “A majority of my family lives there.”
Chairez said her father came to the U.S. when he was 18 years old. The family has been going to Mexico during winter break for the past 6 or 7 years.
Chairez was gone for a month to celebrate the holidays. “It’s an amazing time, we live like right in the middle of nowhere,” Chairez said. “It’s like a really small town, it’s super cool.”
Her time in Mexico was an opportunity to gather with her family in order to celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ and a time for worship together.
“My family is pretty much all Catholic, we pray on the 24th [of December],” Chairez said. “So we go to church and pray and the house and bring back someone to pray… after the prayers we give out goodies bags to people who come pray with us. During Christmas we open our gifts either before we leave or after we come back, we usually celebrate it on the 24th instead of the 25th in the morning.”

A few days later, Chairez and family prepare for one of the most celebrated holidays, New Years.
“New Year is still the same, we still have family and it’s a big party and stuff. We eat ten grapes when counting down and we make a wish with every grape we eat,” Chairez said. “Then after New Year we go to the church, because my grandma is affiliated with the church, and we just pray, and then we leave and go celebrate.”
But the celebrations don’t end at New Year for Emily and her family.
“The night of January 5, we leave our shoes out and we get presents in our shoes, usually money. That’s the day of the kings.”
Otherwise known as El Dio de los Reyes or Three Kings Day, this holiday marks the end of Christmas celebrations in Mexico and many Latin American countries. The three wise men, or kings, bring presents and leave them in or near the shoes of those who celebrate.
But the celebrations on January 6 don’t end there.
“We eat this thing called Rosca de Reyes, which is like a king’s wreath,” Chairez said. “It’s a baked circle and then it has a little baby inside.”
The person lucky enough to get the plastic baby or figurine gets the honor of throwing a fiesta on Rosca de Reyes then on Día de la Candelaria, which is February 2.
“It’s really different, when we used to spend Christmas and New Year here [in Ohio] it was very small, there weren’t very many of us,” Chairez said. “Over there [in Zacatecas] usually my aunts go and visit, so it’s all of them plus our grandparents and my parent’s aunts and uncles, so it’s a lot bigger.”
Chairez said she looks forward to these visits every year. “I get a break from everything from school, it’s a time to reset and it’s really good to be over there,” she said.