WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16: The lively, colorful and sparkling nights of Las Posadas begin the countdown to Christmas in Mexico, Guatemala and parts of the United States tonight, as an ancient tradition is reenacted.
Tantalizing dishes, merry carols and the story of the nativity has been bringing together communities in Mexico for more than 400 years in a beloved tradition that lasts nine nights and ends on Dec. 24. Each night of Las Posadas, a small, candlelit procession travels through a neighborhood, its participants dressed like Mary, Joseph, angels and shepherds, reenacting the search for a safe place to welcome the infant Jesus. Often, musicians follow the group, as do accompanying members of the community.
Posada, Spanish for “lodging,” or “accommodation,” describes the events of Las Posadas: as the procession stops at designated houses and asks permission to stay, it is prearranged that all homeowners turn away the visitors until the host family is reached. At the home of the host family (or, in some regions, a church), the visitors are welcomed inside, and all present kneel before a nativity. Following prayers, tamales and ponche navideno are served, washed down with rompope, a Mexican drink with a taste similar to eggnog. Children may hit a five- or seven-pointed piñata, often filled with dried fruits, sugar sticks, candies and nuts.
RESOURCES & MORE
As a learning resource, NBC News suggests Posadas Navidenas as one of five Latino holiday traditions to share with children.
IN THE NEWS: POSADAS IN AMERICA
The sights and sounds of Las Posadas can be heard beyond Mexico, and as this writer describes, Hispanic communities of the United States—and, in particular, in New Mexico—the nine nights before Christmas are a sprinkling of Mexican culture.
In the diverse state of New Mexico, Christmas trees and menorahs accompany multiple La Posada reenactments, some of which even include live animals. This year, the recently-formed nonprofit organization Bellas Artes Sin Fronteras presented “Feliz Navidad: Christmas in Song and Dance” Dec. 12-13, complete with mariachis, folklorico dance, pinatas and La Posada.