Christmas Posadas: How to Celebrate Las Posadas?
The cultural tradition of Las Posadas (translated to "the inns") is carried out every year during the 9 days before Christmas. Las Posadas is celebrated mostly by communities in Mexico and Central America, and the 9 days of celebration represent the 9 months of pregnancy of the Virgin Mary with her son Jesus. With the movement and migration of these communities to other countries, it's only logical that migrants take their cultures wherever they go, including many places in the United States. That's why it's interesting to learn about the origins of festivities like these, to help the tradition live on.
Las Posadas History
With an origin dating back to the colonial period in Mexico, Christmas Posadas has evolved over the years to become what we know today. Interestingly, the Aztecs had a celebration where they worshiped their god Huitzilopochtli (the god of the sun and war) at right about the same time the Catholics celebrated the masses that began on December 16. To take advantage of that and unite the two cultures, missionary Fray Diego de Soria combined the two celebrations.
Missionaries like Fray had an agenda to evangelize the Christian message, so they strived to attract the Aztecs to the church. Although the celebration began taking place in the churches, with time, the custom evolved to be celebrated in family homes.
Today, Las Posadas is celebrated to relive the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The story says that while they knocked door after door, they found it difficult to find a place to rest and give birth to Jesus. Finally, they convinced someone to give them "Posada" (housing at a hostel or an inn), which is a cause for celebration.
The beginning of the procession consists of the statues of Mary and Joseph being carried down the streets. The participants split up and knock on the doors of the homes of other participants. When they arrive at a door, they sing the song "La Canción Para Pedir Posada" to see if the innkeepers will let them rest in their home. The participants inside the house deny them lodging.
This is repeated until the participants arrive at their destination, that is, the house where the festivities will be hosted. The participants in that house finally give them lodging, and they celebrate with food, music, lights, and fireworks. Typical foods that can be found in these celebrations include mole (a sauce used in Mexican cuisine) and tamales (a dish made of masa or dough, which is steamed in a corn husk with a meat filling), accompanied with a cooked fruit punch and atole.
A Reason to Celebrate
Christmas Posadas is an attractive mix of fun and devotion, something that reflects the Mexican culture with the importance of religious beliefs in their customs. Also known as the party before the Christmas party, the part where they break the piñata is the final touch to the celebration.
The popularity of Christmas Posadas has spread to many places in the United States, with translations of the song "La Canción Para Pedir Posada" " being interpreted into English. The following is a verse of the song, translated into English.
Posada te pide,
por solo una noche
la reina del Cielo.
We request lodging,
for only one night
for the Queen of Heaven.
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