Different Christmas Traditions: Las Posadas
December 16th marks the beginning of Las Posadas, a Christmas tradition that originated in Spain and is now celebrated throughout Latin America. This tradition consists of 9 consecutive nights of candlelight processions re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem.
This celebration is full of symbolism beginning with 9 days to represent the 9 months of Mary’s pregnancy with baby Jesus. Una Posada is an inn or lodge in Spanish. And if you’re pidiendo posada, you’re looking for a place to stay – lodging.
For 9 nights neighbors get together in the streets and form a procession while singing and knocking on neighbor’s doors. The procession involves carrying miniature statues of Joseph leading a donkey, which Mary rides sidesaddle and their path is lit with small candle lanterns called faroles. The procession goes from house to house in neighborhoods and requests lodging by singing a series of verses, where they are turned away – also in verse – by the inhabitants, who act as innkeepers. The evening ends several homes later when they are finally told that there is no room at the inn, but they are welcome to stay in the stable.
At that point, the doors are opened, and the procession is allowed into the house. Typically, everyone will kneel around the family’s nativity scene and recite the rosary. Afterward, the festivities begin. There is often a party including a feast and a piñata for the children. In some areas people may act out the parts of Mary and Joseph, rather than carrying statues. Other variations are not uncommon – such as using a church for each night’s final meeting place, or having the party hosted by a group of families rather than just one.
Las posadas is a beautiful tradition that brings neighbors and families together for a time of reflection and community.
Want to know about other Latino Christmas tradition? Check out our Día de los Reyes blog post!