Different Christmas Traditions: Las Posadas
December 16th marks the beginning of Las Posadas (the inns), a Christmas tradition that originated in Spain and is now celebrated throughout Latin America as well. This tradition consists of 9 consecutive nights of candlelight processions re-enacting the holy family’s search for lodging in Bethlehem.
The procession involves carrying miniature statues of Joseph leading a donkey, which Mary rides sidesaddle, as in the picture below:
faroles(small candle lanterns). They go to one house in the neighborhood and request lodging by singing a series of verses, where they are turned away – also in verse – by the inhabitants, who act as innkeepers.
The procession then heads to a second house, where they repeat the verses and are again turned away. Finally, at the third house, they are 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.
This tradition of las posadas serves not only as a way to build up to the celebration of Christmas Eve, but also as away to educate children about the Biblical events of Christmas. Want to know about other Latino Christmas tradition? Check out our Día de los Reyes blog post!