In Lithuania, the traditional Kuios feast can take up to a week to prepare; in Germany, roast goose, the customary Christmas dish, is a serious endeavor; panettone bread is common at Italian holiday celebrations; and in France, the Bûche de Noël—a giant Ho Hos-esque confection—resembles a Yule Log.

When it comes Mexican-American families, it is quite common to say feliz navidad with meat and masa. The tamale is simple enough. It’s little more than a finely ground corn dough shell encasing any number of delightful ingredients, such as cheese, corn or meat. Wrapped in a corn husk and baked or steamed, it can be eaten alone or served with any number of tasty toppings.

The origins of Christmastime tamales can be traced back to the Mesoamerican cultures that used the original husk-wrapped packets of goodness as ceremonial religious offerings. Over time, as these indigenous peoples converted to Christianity, they brought this delicious tradition along as part of many religious ceremonies—including baptisms, weddings and Christmas.

Though they appear quite minimalist to the eye, the making tamales is actually quite labor-intensive. My friend’s abuelitas have been known to hole up in the kitchen for days preparing bushels and bushels of tamales for the big day. I spoke with Ruby Lopez, the executive assistant at the Tamale Factory, about the whole process.

“Every step of the process—from soaking the corn husks, preparing the masa and meat, as well as applying the masa to the corn husk—is all done with the utmost care and patience,” Lopez explains. “Making tamales can definitely be a lengthy process.” However, it is rewarding work, as it serves as a group activity for the whole family to rally around.

“[We are] continuing a longstanding family tradition that goes back generations,” Lopez continues, explaining that her mother, Claudia—the owner and founder of Tamale Factory—has given a role to each of her children.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have an abuelita to gift us homemade holiday tamales. But with a little help from our local tamaleras, we all can unwrap a tamale or two this season. Here is a small but stout list of my favorite places to pick up fresh tamales any time of year.

The Tamale Factory
233 S White Rd, San Jose

Formerly known as Lucy’s Tamales, The Tamale Factory has been cranking out an award-winning product for nearly 25 years. In addition to the standards—chicken, pork, elote and jalapeño and cheese—they also have a sweet version that comes with a raisin and brown sugar filling. Order online to save time and get to chowing down. Also, be sure to pick up a few containers of their housemade red and green salsas to spice things up. They will be open Christmas day.

Diana’s Tamale Factory
2001 Story Rd, San Jose

You may have seen a representative from Diana’s around town, dishing out delicious tamales from one of their food trucks. But Diana’s home base, located off of Story Road, will gladly meet all your tamale needs. It’s best to call ahead for larger orders, but walk-ins are always welcome. They’ll be open Christmas day until 5 p.m.

Casa Vicky’s
792 E Julian St, San Jose

Serving downtown San Jose since 1968, Casa Vicky’s is probably most famous for its house-made corn and flour tortillas, which are prepared in the dining area as patrons eat. While their pork and chicken tamales are available year-round, they are not typically a tamale shop. However, they will accept large orders for the holiday season. They also offer an expanded tamale lineup this time of year. It includes vegetarian options—like corn and Anaheim pepper and cheese-filled tamales—as well as a beef. They require at a least a two-day lead time, and though they are open on Christmas Eve, they’ll be closed Dec. 25. Prices are a bit steeper than some of their contemporaries, but their tamales are also gigantic. Two of them should be more than enough to satisfy most appetites.

Tamales Lupitas
77 Senter Rd, San Jose

Though it may seem small, Tamales Lupitas is a force to be reckoned with. This street cart, which can be found parked in front of the Marina Supermarket on Senter Road, has some of the most unique flavors out there. In addition to staples like green chili chicken and red chili pork, they are also known for their Oaxaqueño (chicken mole), chicharron (pork rinds) and fruit-flavored varieties, including strawberry and pineapple. Word to the wise: they sell out fast—usually by 10 a.m. on a typical day—so place an order in advance, either by phone or email.

La Perla Taqueria
1150 McGinness Ave, San Jose

Known for serving some of the best mariscos and super chavelas on the East Side, La Perla Taqueria doesn’t typically carry tamales. However, when Christmas rolls around, everything changes. Their tamales are only available on a preorder basis, and they only carry the tamaleras holy triumvirate of pork, chicken and jalapeño and cheese. They are one of the most economical options on this list, but prices do go up as Christmas draws nigh. They are available for Christmas Eve pickups, but are closed on Christmas.