Culture

Mexican Government Makes It Illegal To Buy And Sell The Moss Families Use To Create Their Nacimientos

Growing up Mexican I looked forward to the Christmas season yes, tbh mostly because of presents but also because it was the time when mom and I got to go way overboard with our Nativity Scene decorations. If you’re Latino, putting up a nacimiento is just as essential a part of Christmas, as putting up a tree. If there’s one cliche that has proven to be true, time and again, it’s that Latino moms tend to be extra AF in everything they do. The representations of Jesus’s birth vary from minimal, to OTT baroque, to hyper-realistic. There’s one element that remains the most important aspect of the nacimiento across the board, in Mexico at least, the moss and other dense green clumps are usually used to adorn the decoration. So, what if we told you that buying and selling moss is actually illegal in Mexico?

Nacimiento, Pesebre, or Belen, are the names that different Latin American countries give to the traditional Nativity Scene representation under the Christmas tree.

Credit: Pinterest

The representation of Jesus’s birth, known as nacimiento in Mexico, pesebre in Colombia and other South American countries, or Belen in Spain, is a centuries-old tradition in the Catholic world. All you really need to tell the story are three basic figures: Virgin Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. But why limit yourself? 

You could make the case that the three wise men and the star that guided them to the newborn baby are also essential. Jesus was born in a stable because there was no place at the inns in Bethlehem, so naturally, there should be farm animals around, and hay, and moss —and why not a stream made of cellophane, while you’re at it? 

Nativity Scenes are usually elaborate, over the top extravaganzas that families work tirelessly on for the holiday season.

In Mexico and many other countries of Latin America, nacimientos can turn into elaborate extravaganzas, populated by all manner of animals and plants that you would never find side by side in the real world. Some scenes display pump-operated rivers with real water, others feature waterfalls and ponds. Some include whole cities built around the manger where Jesus was born. The creative license extends to the characters, which range from unrelated biblical figures such as Adam and Eve to random shepherds, farmers, and the devil. It’s clearly not an exercise in authenticity, but it’s festive and fun.

Part of the fun is the use of moss and other types of grass to add to the ‘look’. 

Credit: Pinterest

Moss is used to decorate the scene, but it also has a special symbolism. Spanish moss is of particular importance in the catholic representation of baby Jesus’s birth. A little patch of the gray grass is always placed underneath Satan —to highlight his presence and set him apart from the rest of the crowd. According to tradition, Satan should always be present in a nacimiento to remind us that although the birth of Jesus offers love and the possibility of redemption, sin and evil are always present in the world —and moss plays a big part in his representation.

As soon as November starts drawing to an end and December is around the corner, every mercado in Mexico is flooded by vendors who sell the coveted greenery of the season. 

Credit: @jjoel777 / Twitter

Every city and town has a market where, for about a month between the end of November and the first week in January, a large number of vendors offer items, especially for Christmas.  Some larger cities, like Mexico City, Guadalajara, Morelia, and others, offer several tianguis navideños (Christmas markets) where literally hundreds of vendors set up shop, to sell the infamous moss. 

But as it turns out, selling and/or buying moss is illegal.

Credit: losconfites_organicfarm / Instagram

This type of grass is essential for the survival of Mexican forests. The species is protected by the country, which makes its trade ilegal —and you might want to think twice before you buy it. 

Mosses are actually essential for the health and wellbeing of many ecosystems and all the organisms that inhabit them.

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The term moss encompasses any of at least 12,000 species of small land plants. Mosses are distributed throughout the world except in saltwater and are commonly found in moist shady locations. They are best known as those species that carpet woodland and forest floors. Ecologically, mosses capture water and filter it to underground streams, or substrata, releasing nutrients for the use of more complex plants that succeed them. They also aid in soil erosion control by providing surface cover and absorbing water, and they are important in the nutrient and water economy of some vegetation types. Essentially, they are the pulse of forests and ecosystems everywhere.

Protection and conservation are relatively novel concepts in Mexican bryology, the branch of botany that studies mosses. 

Credit: @elbigdatamx / Twitter

Mexico is home to more than 900 recorded species of moss —and much of the country’s territory is yet to be explored thoroughly for more flora. However, local mosses face habitat destruction and over-harvesting as their major threat. 

In 1993, a diagnostic study of mosses that required protection Mexico was conducted, and supported by the federal government as well as other international agencies. At the time, six species were recognized as ‘rare’ or ‘endangered’ and were placed under official protection. 

The Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources of Mexico regulates the extraction and trade of moss. 

Credit: @iinfodeac / Twitter

In order to extract moss from its natural habitat, and furthermore, to commercialize it, vendors must follow strict requirements in order to attain a license. According to Mexican Forest Law 001 expedited by SEMARNAT (The Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources of Mexico), the extraction of moss is only permitted when the plant is in a mature state and ready for harvest, other conditions require that moss must be extracted in parcels of no more than 2 meters of width and that only 50 percent of each patch of moss may be extracted, etc. 

During this time of year, Mexican police are on high alert. 

Credit: @mimorelia / Twitter

Around the holiday season, police in Mexico double up on their patrolling. Authorities will be on high alert, inspecting those establishments who are authorized to sell moss and searching for those who aren’t. The Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection will be watching —so you might want to tell your mom and tias to avoid shopping for moss in Mexico this year.

READ: Check Out Some Of The Most Tiny And Adorable Nacimientos

Mexico’s Ambassador To Argentina Has Lost His Job After Allegedly Shop Lifting Something For $10 Dollars

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Mexico’s Ambassador To Argentina Has Lost His Job After Allegedly Shop Lifting Something For $10 Dollars

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Working in the international world of diplomacy has its perks. Whether your on a job in Armenia or Argentina, if you’re an ambassador you get the gift of diplomatic immunity. Diplomatic immunity means you can get away with pretty much anything – from parking tickets, drug arrests, some even say murder. But just because you can’t be arrested or tried legally for your crimes, doesn’t mean you get to keep your job. As the Mexican Ambassador to Argentina recently found out.

The Mexican government recalled its foreign ambassador to Argentina back home after a video circulated showing what appears to be the diplomat stealing from a bookstore.

Oscar Ricardo Valero Recio Becerra was recalled on Sunday by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard after newspaper reports that he tried to steal a 590-peso (about $10 USD) book from one of Buenos Aires’ most famous bookstores. The book he tried to steal: Casanova. Yes, that Casanova – the famous 18th century playboy.

Ebrard said in a Twitter post that he asked the ministry’s ethics committee to analyze the accusation against the 76-year-old diplomat and if a video of the alleged theft that’s circulating proves to be true, he’ll be removed from his job immediately.

“Zero tolerance for dishonesty,” Ebrard said.

The ambassador has a long history as one of Mexico’s top diplomats, adding to the confusion as to why he would do something so risky.

Mexico’s ambassador to the South American nation was named by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and had previously been a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He spent much of his academic career studying political science and Mexico’s role in international relations, and was also ambassador to Chile from 2001 to 2004.

But video evidence of the international incident is pretty damning.

The security footage shows ambassador Oscar Ricardo Valeo Recio Becerra grabbing a book from a shelf in a Buenos Aires bookstore. He appears to hide the book between a pile of papers and attempts to walk out of the store. A security guard stopped him and looked through his belongings. 

Meanwhile, the man who nominated him to his post, President AMLO, has called the incident “regrettable.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called the incident “regrettable” but has asked for people to wait until an ethics committee has finished investigating before coming to conclusions. 

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is addressing this case to see what happens and [to ensure] that there are no public lynchings,” the Mexican president said in a press conference on Monday.

Lopez Obrador added that the ambassador will be fired if the committee finds evidence that the ambassador stole the book. 

The Mexican president won his position on the promise to rid corruption from the government. The recent incident is a blow to the president’s goal of making the Mexican people more trusting of their public leaders. 

If You’re Shopping For A ’90s Kid, Check Out These Super Nostalgic And Relevant Gifts

Culture

If You’re Shopping For A ’90s Kid, Check Out These Super Nostalgic And Relevant Gifts

Tee Republic / Amazon

Picture it, the year is 1996, you just got home from school and dropped your Power Rangers backpack on the floor. You’re drinking Squeezits while your mom makes you a snack to watch Pokemon. Life is good. Whether we’re watching reboots or wearing nineties-inspired fashion trends, millennials just can’t seem to let go of that nostalgia of being little kids in the 90s. What a time to be alive, huh? With that in mind, we tracked down 20 totally amazing ’90s gifts for adults that will bring your retro-loving friend, fond memories of late-night sleepovers and Go-Gurt binges.

NES Classic Edition

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Pre-loaded with 30 classic Nintendo games from the ’90s like Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Mega Man, the NES classic edition is sure to make the ‘90s kid bug out. No cartridge blowing necessary.

Caboodles Cases

Credit: @realcaboodles / Twitter

You remember Caboodles? These pastel-colored, toolbox-looking makeup cases were everything. They were where you stored your most prized beauty possessions as a kid. Fill them up with your Dr. Pepper-flavored Lip Smackers and grape-scented nail polish, ’90s girl.

Tamagotchi

Credit: Amazon

Sure, we could download the Tamagotchi app on our smartphones, but we all know it’s not the same. Original Tamagotchis are back and we can’t think of a better stocking stuffer.

Roll-on body glitter

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Luxury and on-trend makeup brands may make the most luxe ‘body glitter,’ but if you grew up in the ’90s, you know that nothing beats a good old sparkly, sticky and shiny roll-on glitter stick. 

Goosebumps Retro Box set

Credit: Amazon

This “Goosebumps” anniversary box set is packed with five fan-favorites, complete with original covers. They are guaranteed to help your horror-loving friends and family relive the terrifying thrill of cracking open a brand new Goosebumps book.

Butterfly Clips

Credit: Amazon

The quintessentially ‘90s hair accessories are back. According to Etsy’s trend experts, searches for “butterfly clips” have seen an almost 400 percent increase on the site. For the ‘90s-loving adult, a pack of nostalgic clips is a totally acceptable hair accessory for 2020.

Lisa Frank supplies

Credit: Walmart

Our favorite psychedelic ‘90s trapper-keeper designer is back, and now she’s serving up some seriously nostalgic office and school supplies. What better way to listen to keep your documents in order than with a lively Lisa Frank folder?

Selena t-shirt

Credit: Tee Republic

A tee, or basically anything featuring this ’90s and forever queen, Selena is a perfect gift for the Latino ’90s baby. 

Pokemon cards

Credit: @less_cute / Twitter

Pokemon cards took over school playgrounds in the ’90s. Kids were frantically collecting and swapping in a desperate bid to catch ’em all. Well, until the teachers banned them. Collect your cards freely now, without any teachers getting rid of the fun.

Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time on vinyl

Credit: Urban Outfitters

Get Britney Spears’s iconic debut album ‘Baby One More Time’ on vinyl because who has a CD player in 2019? Plus, opening this up as a gift will make any ’90s kid cry tears of joy.

Crash Bandicoot T-Shirt

Credit: Box Lunch

Fans of the Crash Bandicoot franchise can go straight back to the Wumpa Islands and show their love for the ’90s classic with this t-shirt featuring the genetically enhanced Crash. 

Sailor Moon Makeup Brushes

Credit: eBay

This magical makeup brush set comes with a pouch and cute sailor guardian designs. A perfect gift for any of your ’90s obsessed makeup enthusiast.

Game Boy Alarm Clock

Credit: Amazon

This Game Boy alarm clock will add a bit of the ’90s to any nightstand. We were all obsessed with this mobile game consols and now they can be yours for a completely different purpose.

’90s Paper cup T-shirt

Credit: Red Bubble

This stylish tee’s nostalgic design resembles the colorful and abstract painting printed on nearly every paper cup during that glorious decade we all miss the most.

Nickelodeon Subscription Box

Credit: The Nick Box

Every 3 months you’ll receive a box jam-packed with goodies featuring your favorite ’90s Nicktoons like The Rugrats and Hey Arnold.

“It Was All A Dream” Neon sign

Credit: Etsy

The opening line to Biggy’s 1994 debut single ‘Juicy,’ is the ultimate ’90s gift for anyone growing up in that decade. 

Vintage Treasure Troll Dolls

Credit: eBay

One of the many strange toys that were popular in the nineties. Confession: I still have a plastic box filled with trolls that I collected in the ’90s. (Related: This will not be the only weird thing you learn about me in this roundup.)

Vans Old Skool Sneakers 

Credit: Vans

Only the coolest kids came to class in Vans sneakers. These are a nice throwback with the checkers emblazoned on them.

Gelly Roll Metallic Pens

Credit: Amazon

These babies were essential for diaries and passing secret class notes. Just imagine the nostalgia when you use these for your work notes.

READ: 11 Gift Ideas To Give Your BFF This Christmas Featuring All Latino-Inspired Presents