Christmas is around the corner and around the world people are getting ready to celebrate the biggest holiday of the year. Yet no one does Christmas quite like Latinos. While Americans have the greatest holiday spirit, nothing can match the incredible richness of Latin American Christmas traditions, infused as they are with a fascinating mix of indigenous culture and Christian celebrations. Drawn from countries across the continets, here are 5 traditions Mexicans and other Latinos keep to celebrate Christmas.

1. Posadas: Posadas are a Catholic tradition that first emerged in Spain but is now most commonly celebrated in Mexico and Guatemala. Beginning on the 16th of December and running until the 24th, Posadas involve a reenactment of Joseph and Mary's search for a shelter where the Virgin Mary could safely give birth to Jesus. Often occurring at a party, revellers will split into two groups, one which goes outside and knocks on the door of the house asking for shelter or 'posada' while the others act as the various innkeepers

Both sides of the reenactment hold candles and sign a traditional song asking for 'posada': "En nombre del cielo, os pido posada, pues no puede andar mi esposa amada" (In the name of God I ask you for shelter for my beloved wife can't go on) begin the Joseph and Mary group: the inne keepers reply denying them entry. This is repeated several times until Joseph and Mary are finally allowed in at which time both sing together. In some elaborate cases, the Posada procession can take over a street or even a whole town with elaborate costumes.

2. Pastorelas: These traditional reenactment plays happen across Latin America but particularly in Mexico and Brazil. The plays depict the birth of Christ including the shepherds, the three kings and the search for the manger. Often performed by children, the plays are performed in full costume and are often very elaborate. In Mexico the character of Satan is a particularly funny and important role.

3. Misas: Religion plays a very significant part in Latin America during Christmas - considering that the region makes up the world's largest percentage of Catholics, this is hardly surprising. In countries such as Bolivia, Chile and Mexico, people attend the Midnight Mass, called the 'Misa del Gallo.' Meanwhile in Venezuela, worshippers attend mass everyday beginning December 16th in the mornings: this service is called 'Misa de Aguinaldo.'

 4. Nacimientos: Nacimientos or Nativity Scenes are one of the most unifying traditions across Latin America. In countries from Mexico to Peru, Chile, Paraguay and Guatemala, people set up elaborate Nativity Scenes inside their homes, in churches and in public places. Figures range from life-size to miniature: in Peru figures are intricately carved by Quechua Indians.

5. Piñata: To many people’s surprise, piñatas also have a religious origin. The original ones were seven-peak stars, each representing one of the capital sins. The idea (like now) was to destroy the sins until it cracked open, symbolizing God’s forgiveness and flowing of his blessings. Made out of paper mache or clay, these brightly colored objects are filled with candy and suspended from a rope. Children then take turns trying to break it and then get the candy inside! Children are often blindfolded and a traditional song is sung as they try to hit the piñata.