Day 16 and there are nine days until Christmas! So today, we read a special book from 1959 by Marie Hall Ets and Aurora Labastida called Nine Days to Christmas. It is a story of Mexico and of a little girl’s posada which is one of the special parties given on the nine nights before Christmas.
This tale is about 5 year old Ceci, who is now old enough for her very first posada. The entire town will participate and there will be delicious things to eat and songs to sing and traditional dress to wear. But best of all, Ceci will get her very own piñata to fill with special treats and have all the children try to break in celebration.
Waiting until the day of her posada is so difficult for 5 year old Ceci; but her family and helpers try to fill the days with all the preparation and also normal tasks of daily life.
In this splendid tale, we get a taste of Mexican culture and a very special Christmas tradition in a Mexican town. The story is based upon the Mexico that co-author, Aurora Labastida, grew up in. I love reading about and imagining holidays in other countries. What a great way to expand your worldview. When I think of Christmas, it is usually cloaked in cold, snow, Christmas trees, lights, presents, and other traditions from my North American childhood. Reading about a traditional posada and the Mexican celebrations is just great fun!
Marie Hall Ets is a famous author and illustrator and she was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1960 for this charming Mexican tale. She was close friends with Aurora Labastida who was a children’s librarian in Mexico City. The back flap of the book shares how Ets and Labastida wanted to create a story about a city child instead of the stereotypical village Mexicans who wear ponchos and have burros. According to the book, 70% of all Mexicans live in cities, so Ms. Ets used actual characters throughout the story to describe real life.
Nine Days to Christmas is very long which actually helps you feel the difficult wait and anticipation that little Ceci endured. The authors do a marvelous job filling the story with typical daily events that other children may not be familiar with. I feel this really helps weave the culture into the story which aids in really grasping the celebrations in the end. The illustrations are true Marie Hall Ets style with a pencil sketch and limited color palette. The colors she does use are bold and vibrant, giving the feel of the culture well.
I highly encourage expanding your view of holidays with a book such as this. Celebrate the Nine Days to Christmas with little Ceci and be drawn into Mexican culture and the holiday in a new way.
Follow along our book adventure at 25 Days of Christmas Books.