The holiday season means two things in most households in New Mexico: food and family. Families across New Mexico gather to make tamales, biscochos, ponche navideño, champurrado and posole.
Tamale making is one way to involve family in the making of their own meal. The process consists of spreading masa on a dried corn husk, adding your filling— red chile meat, green chile cheese, green chile chicken and more— wrapping it, then steaming the tamales in large batches. The process is time consuming, but well worth the wait!
Every family seems to have their own “secret” recipe for these melt-in-your mouth, shortbread-style cookies. Anise, cinnamon and sugar create the base flavors to this holiday and family-gathering favorite. It’s what each family adds to their own recipe that makes it special.
This hot, spiced fruit punch is made with fruits like guava and tejocotes. It is flavored with piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, jamaica and sugar cane. Some recipes may also add dried plums, apples, oranges, tamarindo, cloves and alcohol.
This is another hot beverage perfect for warming those cold desert nights. Base ingredients include masa (corn dough), piloncillo, cinnamon and other spices. The masa adds a creamy consistency that makes the texture and flavor unique.
Posole and Menudo
Posole and menudo are cure-alls for a lot of people. The soups start off with a hominy and then deviate from there. Menudo has tripe and a red chile base, which sets the flavor apart from posole. Posole typically has chicken, pork or beef to flavor the broth along with either a red chile or green chile base. Lime, oregano, onion, radish, cabbage are toppings that add even more flavor and texture to the heartiness of the dish. Recipes can vary significantly from family to family, making it a staple dish during the holidays.
Luminarias are traditional New Mexico holiday decorations. The paper lanterns are weighed down by sand with a candle nestled safely inside. Tealights or bulbs are used now. They are sometimes referred to as “farolitos.”
@visitlascruces When you think of holiday foods, your immediate thoughts may go to tamales! Some may argue that their own families make the best tamales, but we can all agree they are an important part of the Holidays! Who do you know that makes the best tamales? #visitlascruces #lascrucesnm #happyholidays #tamales #holidaytraditions ♬ original sound - Visit Las Cruces
@visitlascruces Las Cruces is full of traditions and cultural experiences! One of those being the annual Luminaria displays around town. These candle-lit paper bags have a beautiful warm glow that warms the community with their light. Make your very own luminarias for the holidays! #visitlascruces #lascrucesnm #happyholidays #luminarias #holidaytraditions ♬ original sound - Visit Las Cruces
@visitlascruces A hot bowl of posole is exactly what is needed to warm up on these chilly winter days! Is there a unique way you like to prepare your posole? Lime, onion, cabbage, oregano? #visitlascruces #lascrucesnm #happyholidays #pozole #posole #holidaytraditions #newmexico #newmexicofood ♬ It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas - Christmas Piano Instrumental & Holiday Jazz Ensemble
Hollowed out colorful eggs filled with paper confetti. It’s a tradition to chase your family around during the Easter season and crack an egg on their head.
Baylor Canyon Pass Yellow Poppies
If the rains are generous enough, in spring, yellow poppies blanket the northern foothills of the Organ Mountains along Baylor Canyon Pass. All visitors are asked to be respectful and not step on, pick or crush the flowers while at the site.
Southern New Mexico has a great climate for growing squash and zucchini, making “Calabacitas” a perfect summer dish. Although it translates to “little squash,” this dish often incorporates sautéed corn, tomatoes and onion. Chile and cheese are welcome additions.
Dia de los Muertos
In late fall, Mesilla and Doña Ana hold Dia de los Muertos celebrations. The holiday honors deceased loved ones. Ofrendas or small altars are built to honor their memory and consist of colorful decorations and offerings. It is celebrated over three days locally and encompasses Oct. 31, known as Day of the Dead; Nov. 1, known as All Saints Day; and Nov. 2, known as All Souls Day. The celebrations can vary by culture.
The Mesilla Valley becomes ripe with fall festivities during the season. As a renowned agricultural community, its corn fields and pumpkin patches are frequented throughout September and October, and made even better by the idyllic weather. Get lost in one of two of the area’s corn mazes— La Union Maze or Mesilla Valley Maze.