A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 23, 2017
“Why do Mexicans eat tamales on Christmas?"/"So they can have something to unwrap.”

Many Mexican-Americans eat tamales over Christmas. The “tamalada” (tamale-making party) is a South Texas institution. A popular joke riddle is:

Q: Why do Mexicans eat tamales on Christmas?
A: So they can have something to unwrap.


The Christmas tamales joke has been cited in print since at least 1983 and has been printed on many images.


Google Books
Hispanic Link Weekly Report
Volumes 1-2
1983
Pg. ?:
GIFT-WRAPPED TAMALES: Californian Jose Antonio Burciaga starts his latest essay on Latino humor “The reason Chicanos have tamales each Christmas is so they can have something to unwrap.”

13 March 1984, Albuquerque (NM) Journal, IMPACT magazine, pg. 14, col. 1:
Why do Espanola kids get tamales for Christmas? So they’ll have something to unwrap.

Google Books
La Chicana and the Intersection of Race, Class, and Gender
By Irene I. Blea
New York, NY: Praeger
1992
Pg. 59:
Why do Mexicans make tamales for Christmas?
So they will have something to unwrap.

4 December 1992, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, “Tamaladas mean family, food, gossip” by Carlos Guerra, pg. A23:
Mexicans make tamales, the joke goes, so everyone will have something to unwrap at Christmas time.

Google Groups: rec.humor
Mexican jokes wanted
Your Name Here
1/24/95
(...)
Why do Mexicans have tamales for Christmas?
So they have something to unwrap.

Google Groups: alt.tasteless.jokes
mexican jokes
Laura Schooler
5/26/96
(...)
Q: Why do Mexicans eat Tamales at Christmas?
A: So they’ll have something to unwrap!

Google Books
A Treasury of Gross Jokes
By Julius Alvin
New York, NY: Kensington Books
2003
Pg. ?:
Why do Mexicans always have tamales for Christmas dinner?
So they’ll have something to unwrap!

Twitter
Austin Alvarado‏
@skunkhair
Replying to @h0neyb
@h0neyb why do mexicans eat tamales on Christmas? So they have something to unwrap.
10:31 PM - 10 Oct 2008

Twitter
PJ Rodriguez‏
@pjrodriguez
My uncle says we serve tamales so the Mexicans have something to unwrap on Christmas Day.
2:44 PM - 23 Dec 2008

Google Books
(Re)mapping the Latina/o Literary Landscape
Edited by Cristina Herrera and Larissa M. Mercado-López
New York, NY: SPringer
2016
Pg. 196:
Here’s a joke for you: Why do Mexicans make tamales for Christmas? So they have something to unwrap.

Reddit—Jokes
Why do Mexican kids eat tamales on Christmas?
submitted December 24, 2017 by Sleekpwns
So they can have something to unwrap

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Saturday, December 23, 2017 • Permalink