Catholic: Reenact Bethlehem journey during Las Posadas

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16: Hispanic Catholics begin a colorful pre-Christmas ritual today as they embark on the nine-day journey that is Las Posadas. Traditionally, participants will travel at night in a candle-lit procession, from home to home, looking for a place to stay—just as Mary and Joseph searched for somewhere to stay before Jesus’ birth. The entire journey is performed in song, and during Las Posadas, nine separate families “host” a night. (Wikipedia has details.) Each night, one host family welcomes the neighborhood pilgrims inside— and once inside, everyone solemnly prays before a Nativity scene before feasting and enjoying festive activities. (Kids can learn all about Las Posadas, plus make a poinsettia and hold their own procession, with ideas from

Las Posadas processions can be extremely elaborate, very simple—and everything in between. Some processions have live musicians, a “Mary” riding on a real donkey, a real baby “Jesus,” “Joseph,” “shepherds” and “angels.” (Get a traditional perspective at Mexconnect.) Less elaborate processions often include pilgrims who carry statues of members of the Holy Family. In Central American countries and areas of Mexico, Las Posadas processions can end at either a church or a home. (In San Franciso, an annual Las Posadas procession—created by a homeless man and local parishioner—travels down the beach each night, complete with “Mary” on a donkey and other actors. Read all about it in Catholic San Franciso.)

Las Posadas continues through Christmas Eve, the time when the greatest feast of all is presented. After midnight Mass, many Hispanic Catholics will celebrate with fiesta music, hot fruit punch and sweet fruits, piñatas—and plenty of merriment. (Hungry to make your own Mexican feast? Try this site for Las Posadas recipes of empanadas, tamale pie, quesadillas and more!)

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