Las Posadas – History. Dec. 16th – Dec. 24th. [2022]

In the United States, it is a tradition to have Christmas Carolers, and children performing a Nativity Play. In Mexico, many of the Christian traditions started as a way to convert indigenous people to Catholicism. Las Posadas is one of them.

In religious terms, it is a “Novena” – nine days to commemorate the journey of Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem, in which they looked for a safe place to spend the night asking for “Posada” [accommodations – lodge]

Las Posadas start on December 16th. and end with Christmas mass on December 24th. Every night, family and friends have a procession singing Christmas carols and ending at a designated host house where they will ask for “Posada” singing a Christmas rhyme. The “Innkeeper” will refuse by singing a rhyme as well, until he finds out Mary is going to give birth to Jesus. At that moment he lets everybody in rejoicing in song! In the olden days, people would pray the rosary between Christmas carols.

The next step as I remember will be to break the 7-point star “Piñata.”  The seven points are a reminder of the 7 deadly sins: Pride, Greed, Lust, Gluttony, Envy, Wrath, and Laziness. Each time you hit the points you are committing to fight the sins. The piñatas were originally made with a “jarro” [clay pot] covered with papier mache, and they were filled with fruits like oranges, guavas, sugar cane, and sweet limes.

After breaking the piñata, the host offered tamales, atole or chocolate, and pastries, and in modern times there will be a dance.

Each night there will be a different host, until December 24th. People will go to Christmas Mass.

The posadas are characterized by being nine festivals, which allude to the pilgrimage that Mary and Joseph made before the birth of Jesus, the nine days it took them to reach Bethlehem. During their trip, they looked for a place to stay and spend the night, hence the term ask for a posada, which later gave the celebration its name. According to the anthropologist Fernando Hijar, this tradition originated with the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico, where the religious in charge of the evangelization of the town supplanted the cult of the god of war Huitzilopochtli, due to the European practice of preparing for Christmas.

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