Las Posadas

Feature photo by anglofille

The thing I love most about Catholic and Hispanic Catholic traditions is that they are so much fun. Take the tradition of Las Posadas for example. Las Posadas honors the trials Mary and Joseph endured while traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of lodging so that Mary could give birth to Jesus. Celebrated from December 16th through the 24th, Las Posadas, which means “The Inns,” is a daily reenactment of that journey. Each participating house in the neighborhood displays a nativity scene. A child dressed as an angel leads a procession of adults and children, who dress up as peregrinos. They travel from house to house asking for lodging and singing traditional songs. Each house must turn them away until they get to the house of the “innkeepers” (the hosts of the celebration that day). All the pilgrims carry candles, and four people carry a statue of Joseph leading a donkey in which which Mary is riding on. In some Latin American countries, two people dress as Mary and Joseph, and Joseph leads Mary to the innkeepers while riding an actual donkey.

At the innkeepers’ house, everyone kneels around the nativity scene and prays. Sometimes the event is held in a church instead of a house. Then there is a large celebration where everyone sings Christmas carols, children break open a piñata shaped as a Christmas star, and all enjoy a huge feast. The journey and celebration occur every day for nine days. On the last day of Las Posadas, Christmas Eve, a mass formally concludes the celebration.