Posadas Navidenas: Colorful processions recall an ancient journey

A Las Posadas procession. Photo by Anza Trail NPS, courtesy of Flickr

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16: The Hispanic countdown to Christmas officially begins tonight with Posadas Navidenas across Mexico, in Guatemala and in regions of the United States. 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.

Did you know? As a learning resource, NBC News suggests Posadas Navidenas as one of five Latino holiday traditions to share with children.

Spanish for “lodging” or “accommodation,” Posada recalls the difficulty Mary and Joseph encountered on their journey. Posada 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. Often, Christmas carols are also sung by all. (Learn traditional carols and more at The Other Side of the Tortilla.)

FROM AN AZTEC WINTER CELEBRATION TO A NEIGHBORHOOD EVENT

Roots of the nine-day Las Posadas likely lie in the Aztec winter celebration of the sun god, which took place over nine nights; when the native peoples of Mexico were converting to Catholicism, church leaders encouraged nine nights of devotion to the parents of Jesus—focusing each evening on a month of Mary’s pregnancy.

Revelries outside of Mexico can vary: in the Philippines, Posadas highlights a Panunuluyan pageant, a type of play portraying the story of Mary and Joseph and recited in a local language. In Nicaragua, the event lasts only one day. In the United States, several regions hold some type of Las Posadas celebration, most often with carols, reenactments and plenty of Mexican food.

DIY: RECIPES & MAKING A PINATA

Shake off the winter chill by adopting a Las Posadas tradition in your neighborhood, and invite friends over for a traditional meal of vegetable tamale pie, Tijuana chicken and warm apple empanadas. (Recipes can be found at Cinnamon Hearts.)

Craft a simple piñata with help from OneCharmingParty.

For recipes for tamales, rompope and more, check out an article from the Washington Postthis Pinterest page and Lowes.com.

 

Las Posadas: Embrace Hispanic culture with a warming nine-night tradition

Line of people dressed as shepherds and other figures from the manger scene

A Las Posadas procession. Photo by Anza Trail NPS, courtesy of Flickr

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16: The elaborate Hispanic countdown to Christmas officially begins tonight, with Las Posadas—or Posadas Navidenas—across Mexico, in Guatemala and in regions of the United States. 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 and 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 prayer, guests feast on traditional tamales and sip ponche navideno. Children often break a star-shaped piñata, and Christmas carols are sung by all. Tamales and ponche navideno are often washed down with rompope, a Mexican drink with a taste similar to eggnog.

POSADAS NAVIDENAS: FROM AZTEC WINTERS TO THE MANGER

Glass of yellow liquid with brown powder on top, bowl of brown powder to side

Rompope, a Mexican drink similar to eggnog, is a common drink during Las Posadas nights. Photo courtesy of Prexels

Roots of the nine-day Las Posadas likely lie in the Aztec winter celebration of the sun god, which took place over nine nights; when the native peoples of Mexico were converting to Catholicism, church leaders encouraged nine nights of devotion to the parents of Jesus—focusing each evening on a month of Mary’s pregnancy.

To this day, children follow tradition in dressing the parts of Mary, Joseph, angels and shepherds, and some carry poinsettias while others sing along, often accompanied by musicians. Finally, a designated home welcomes the guests, and merrymaking ensues.

Revelries outside of Mexico vary: in the Philippines, Posadas highlights a Panunuluyan pageant, a type of play portraying the story of Mary and Joseph and recited in a local language. In Nicaragua, the event lasts only one day. In the United States, several regions hold some type of Las Posadas celebration, most often with carols, reenactments and plenty of Mexican food.

RECIPES, RESOURCES, MAKING A PINATA & MORE

Shake off the winter chill by adopting a Las Posadas tradition in your neighborhood, and invite friends over for a traditional meal of vegetable tamale pie, Tijuana chicken and warm apple empanadas. Craft a simple piñata with help from OneCharmingParty.

For recipes for tamales, rompope and more, check out an article from the Washington Post and this Pinterest page.

As a learning resource, NBC News suggests Posadas Navidenas as one of five Latino holiday traditions to share with children.

Posadas Navidenas: Mexican Catholics mark 9 colorful nights

Pile of tamales wrapped in strings

Tamales take center stage at many Las Posadas meals. Photo by Stefani, courtesy of Flickr

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 16: The lively nights known as Las Posadas begin in Mexico, Guatemala and parts of the United States, bringing tasty dishes, cheerful carols and unified communities. A nine-night celebration originally from Spain, Posadas Navidenas begins December 16 and ends on December 24. Posada, Spanish for “lodging,” or “accommodation,” reenacts Mary and Joseph’s search for a safe, warm place to welcome the infant Jesus. Las Posadas has been a tradition throughout Mexico for 400 years.

Each night of Posadas Navidenas, a small, candlelit procession travels through a neighborhood. The procession stops at designated houses and asks permission to stay, but as is prearranged, the homeowners turn the visitors away. Finally, a host family for the evening (or, in some regions, a church) welcomes the visitors inside, and everyone kneels before a Nativity scene to pray. (Wikipedia has details.) After prayer, traditional tamales and ponche navideno are typically served with rompope, a drink similar to eggnog. Children may take turns hitting a five- or seven-pointed pinata, and the pinata is often filled with dried fruit, sugar sticks, nuts and candies.

A boy hits a Las Posadas pinata. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A boy hits a Las Posadas pinata. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

THE LAS POSADAS PROCESSION

As processions slowly move down the streets each night of Las Posadas, additional members join the children. In most processions, select children dress as Mary, Joseph, shepherds and angels—or, the children carry images of these holy figures. Musicians sometimes follow the group, which sings at each doorstep while beckoning for a place to stay.

Las Posadas processions are gaining popularity in the Southwest United States, but the reenactments can be organized in any community.

Did you know? The popular rompope drink is believed to have been created by nuns in the convent of Santa Clara, in Puebla.

Posadas Navidenas: Christians revel in Spanish tradition of nine nights

Breaking a pinata, crowd in back

A pinata is broken during Las Posadas. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

MONDAY, DECEMBER 16: The elaborate Hispanic countdown to Christmas officially begins in tonight, with Las Posadas—or Posadas Navidenas—across Mexico, in Guatemala and in regions of the United States. For nine nights, until Christmas Eve, entire neighborhoods will march through the streets in costumed processions that reenact the journey of Mary and Joseph to the manger. Spanish for “lodging” or “accommodation,” Posada recalls the difficulty Mary and Joseph encountered on their journey. Each evening, children lead processions that lead to a “host” home, where the “innkeepers” welcome procession participants and everyone prays. Following prayer, guests feast on traditional tamales and sip ponche navideno. Children often break a star-shaped piñata, and Christmas carols are sung by all. (Learn traditional carols and more at The Other Side of the Tortilla.)

POSADAS NAVIDENAS:
FROM AZTEC WINTER TO A NEIGHBORHOOD GATHERING

Roots of the nine-day Las Posadas likely lie in the Aztec winter celebration of the sun god, which took place over nine nights; when the native peoples of Mexico were converting to Catholicism, church leaders encouraged nine nights of devotion to the parents of Jesus—focusing each evening on a month of Mary’s pregnancy. (Wikipedia has details.)

To this day, children follow tradition in dressing the parts of Mary, Joseph, angels and shepherds, and some carry poinsettias while others sing along, often accompanied by musicians. Finally, a designated home welcomes the guests, and merrymaking ensues.

Bowl with ladel of fruit punch, ponche

Ponche is a traditional drink made for Las Posadas, though recipes vary slightly. Photo by Raluy Schneider, courtesy of Flickr

Revelries outside of Mexico vary: in the Philippines, Posadas highlights a Panunuluyan pageant, a type of play portraying the story of Mary and Joseph and recited in a local language. In Nicaragua, the event lasts only one day. In the United States, several regions hold some type of Las Posadas celebration, most often with carols, reenactments and plenty of Mexican food. The Salt Lake Tabernacle will once again be hosting its three-day Posadas program, with nearly 1,000 singers, dancers, musicians, actors and stagehands.

RECIPES, MAKING A PINATA

Shake off the winter chill by adopting a Las Posadas tradition in your neighborhood, and invite friends over for a traditional meal of vegetable tamale pie, Tijuana chicken and warm apple empanadas. (Recipes can be found at Cinnamon Hearts.) Craft a simple piñata with help from OneCharmingParty.