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MEXICO: FEASTS AND FESTIVALS

Mexicans have lots of festivals and holidays throughout the year.  There are four or five holidays every month.  Holidays are often linked to religious events and involve dancing, special foods, and special costumes.  Here are 3.

The Day of the Dead
November 2 is a national holiday called "The Day of the Dead."  It marks the time when the souls of the dead come back to earth for a few hours.
During the festival, tables are set up in the family home and decorated with fruits, flowers, candles, and pictures of saints.  This is supposed to attract the souls of the dead.  The favorite foods and drinks of the loved ones are taken to the graves.  One of the things that they bring is called  de maerto which means bread of the dead.  It is molded into shapes like angels or animals.

Another tradition for this day is the making of calavaros or skulls by the children.  Children make skulls for each of their friends.  They put the friend's name on the skull and leave it on their doorstep.

The Posadas
The Posadas which means lodging or shelter are celebrated every evening from December 16th to the 24th.  They mark Mary and Joseph's cold and difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of shelter.(Over 89% of Mexicans are Catholic.)  People carrying candles form a procession and walk towards a house.  They then beg for shelter.  The doors open, and they are invited it.  At this point a party begins.

Part of the celebration is the breaking of the piñata.  Traditionally they have been made of pottery or papier-mache but today they can even be made of cardboard.  They are filled with fruit, candy, and nuts and hang on a rope.  Each child is blindfolded and given the opportunity to break the piñata.

Christmas Celebrations
Christmas is a time of many traditions.  One of the first signs is the blooming of the poinsettia.  Every house, park, shop, and garden is decorated with this beautiful flower.

Mexicans eat their Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve and then go to Midnight Mass.  Gifts are given on Christmas Day, but also on January 6 to celebrate the arrival of the Magi.  On January 6, they eat a cake in the shape of a ring called rosca de reyes.  Hidden inside the cake is a Baby Jesus doll.  Whoever gets the slice of cake with the doll in it must host a party on February 2, which is Candlemas.

Use this information above to answer these questions.

1. One version of the bread of the dead calls for 5 1/2 cups flour; 1/2 cup butter; and 4 eggs.  If you were making 8 loaves, how many cups of flour would you need?  How many pounds of butter (each pound has four sticks, each of which measures 1/2 cup)? How many dozen eggs?

2. Jose has 6 friends.  Call them A, B, C, D, E, and F.  Three of these friends leave skulls on his doorstep.  List the possibilities of who might have left them.  Order does not count.  How many possibilities can you find?

3. A certain piñata contains 200 treats.  If 8 children are at the party and each child gets the same amount, how many pieces did each get?
Rosita collects 30 pieces.  What percent of the total is that?
Together Jose, Ramon, and Jorge collect 90 pieces.  Jose got 2 times more than Ramon and Jorge got 3 times more than Ramon.  How many pieces did each boy collect?

4. Suppose the ring cake is divided into 12 pieces and 2 dolls are hidden in the cake.  What is the probability that the first slice will have a doll in it?  Suppose the first slice has a doll in it.  What is the probability that the next slice will also have a doll?  Suppose the doll is not in the first 2 slices.  What is the probability that the next slice will contain a doll?  Give an example of when the probability would be 1/2.

Mexican Feast Solutions

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