of Las Posada
Christmas celebration in Mexico took place in 1538 when
missionaries brought Roman Catholicism to the new continent. The
story of Nacimiento, or Christ's birth, has been celebrated ever
since. Las Posadas begins on December 16 with nine days of
joyful observance, followed by the presentations of gifts on
January 6, which is called Three King Day (Dia de los Tres
the most colorful Mexican Christmas tradition is the posada
party, celebrated every evening from December 16 to 24. These
celebrations commemorate Mary and Joseph's cold and difficult
journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of shelter. "Posada"
in Spanish, simply means lodging or shelter. Nowadays, the
posada has evolved into a religious and social celebration,
paying a festive homage to the journey.
of these nights before Christmas, a party is held in a home in
the neighborhood. There is plenty of food and drink, with
candies and fruit for the children. At dusk, all the guests
gather outside the house. A small child dressed as an angel
leads, followed by children carrying figures of Mary and Joseph.
Boys and girls dressed in silver and gold robes constitute the
procession, followed by the adults and musicians. Everyone sings
melodious songs as they walk slowly along, carrying their lit
candles. They make stops requesting lodging but
are denied. When they reach the house, the group divides in two.
One half remains outside and begs for shelter from the other
half, which is inside the house. Verses alternate from
pilgrims to hosts until the sacred nature of their visit is
revealed and they are admitted. The doors open and the joyful
pilgrims enter singing. "Enter Holy, Holy
Pilgrims..."...". Won't you and your entire family
accompany Mary and Joseph find shelter? The doors are then
opened, the religious part of the celebration ends, and the fun
end to each posada has always been the piņata. A piņata is a
fragile earthenware jar covered with paper mache, traditionally
made in the shape of a star, to recall the one that so
mysteriously guided the Three Kings to the newborn Jesus. Now piņatas
come in all shapes and sizes and are filled with candy, toys,
and sometimes money. A
child is blindfolded, turned around a few times, given a stick
and a chance to break it. When the Piņata is broken, the
children scramble for the candy.
old days, the last posada held on December 24 was most popular,
because it was followed by midnight Mass. In the provinces of
Mexico, this tradition lives on.