Celebrations of  Las Posada

The first 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 Reyes.)

One of 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.

Each one 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 begins.

The happy 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.

In the 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. 

Advent                  Las Posadas

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