Posadas Navidenas: Hispanic Christian tradition becomes global 9-night festival

Las Posadas dancing

A student learns traditional Mexican ballet folklorico, for Las Posadas. Photo by CSUF Photos, courtesy of Flickr

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16: The colorful, lively 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.

IN THE NEWS: Las Posadas celebrations in Santa Fe, New Mexico will return in full swing this year, for the first time since before the pandemic. Read the story, with interviews and more, at Santa Fe New Mexican.

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.

Las Posadas tamales

Tamales are traditionally made for Las Posadas. Photo by Jazz Guy, courtesy of Flickr


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.


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