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Feliz Navidad, Amigas y Amigos
Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:31 pmForum Host
Las Posadas means "the inns" or "the shelters" in Spanish. A religious and social celebration that takes place for nine nights, from December 16th to 24th, the holiday known as Las Posadas commemorates Joseph and Mary's journey to Bethlehem and their search for shelter prior to the birth of Christ. Las Posadas is a reenactment of this difficult journey. It is an elaborate preparation for La Navidad (Christmas) in Mexico and some Central American countries.
This tradition dates back to the sixteenth century and St. Ignatius Loyola, who used an Aztec festival to teach about the birth of Christ. He also wanted to replace the nine-day celebration of the birth of the Aztec Sun god with a Christian celebration. What started as a novena, or nine days of prayer, eventually moved from the church to the community and was celebrated in people's homes.
The novena (a prayer said on nine consecutive days) of Las Posadas traditionally begins on December 16th and continues through Christmas Eve, each night a search for shelter, a series of refusals, and a final resting place. Today, Las Posadas is usually condensed into one evening, Christmas Eve, and the final festivities are always followed with Midnight Mass.
Typically, each family in a neighborhood will schedule a night for the Posada to be held at their home, starting on the 16th of December and finishing on the 24th.
The neighborhood children and adults are the pilgrims (peregrinos), who have to request lodging by going to a different home each night singing a traditional song about the pilgrims, followed by musicians. When they enter the designated house, they begin the evening with prayer; soon after, the celebration begins, full of music, fireworks, food, candy, and treats for all. Children and adults alike anticipate this joyous religious occasion.
Every home has a nativity scene and the hosts of the Posada act as the innkeepers. All the pilgrims carry small lit candles in their hands, and four people carry small statues of Joseph leading a donkey, on which Mary is riding. The head of the procession will have a candle inside a paper lamp shade. At each house, the resident responds by refusing lodging (also in song), until the weary travelers reach the designated site for the party, where Mary and Joseph are finally recognized and allowed to enter. Once the "innkeepers" let them in, the group of guests come into the home and kneel around the Nativity scene to pray (typically, the Rosary).
Latin American countries have continued to celebrate this holiday to this day, with very few changes to the tradition. In some places, the final location may be a church instead of a home. Individuals may actually play the various parts of Mary (Maria) and Joseph with the expectant mother riding a real donkey (burro), with attendants such as angels and shepherds acquired along the way, or the pilgrims may carry images of the holy personages instead. At the end of the long journey, there will be Christmas carols (villancicos), children will break open pinatas by striking these colorful papier-mache objects with bats while blindfolded to obtain candy hidden inside, and there will be a feast. Traditionally, it is expected to meet all the invitees in a previous procession.
In traditional homes and rural areas, particularly in the south of Mexico, La Navidad is still very much a religious holiday. However, just as the Magi brought gifts to the infant baby Jesus, celebrants also bring toys to good little girls and boys on January 6, the Day of the Kings. In the northern parts of Mexico, especially those adjacent to the United States, Christmas trees and Santa Claus are the order of the day.
Some posadas foods might include Best Albondigas Soup, Valencia Tamale Pie, Pollo Con Mole Poblano - Chicken in Mole Sauce, Mexican Lasagne, Cinnamon-Pumpkin Empanadas ( Empanadas De Calabazas), Fruit-Filled Dessert Quesadillas, and Vanilla Tapioca Pudding.
GREAT Mexican Holiday Recipes
Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:51 amForum Host
Feliz Navidad Molly! Thanks so very much for sharing such a wonderful tradition with us, DH especially enjoyed it as it brought back some delightful memories of his childhood.
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