Last night our street kicked off the posada season for our colonia. It was a very nice to see all of our neighbors in one setting, kind of like the old block parties up north of the border.
Quoting Wikipedia, here is some background information on Las Pasadas:
Las Posadas is a nine-day celebration with origins in Spain, now celebrated chiefly in Mexico, and portions of the Southwestern United States, beginning December 16 and ending December 24, on evenings (about 8 or 10 PM).
It is said in plural because it is celebrated more than one day in that period. The nine-day novena represents the nine months of pregnancy, specifically the pregnancy of Mary carrying Jesus.
The procedure has been a tradition in Mexico for 400 years. While its roots are in Catholicism, even Protestant Latinos follow the tradition. It may have been started in the 16th century by Friar Pedro de Gante. It may have been started by early friars who combined Spanish Catholicism with the December Aztec celebration of the birth of Huitzilopochtli.
Two people dress up as Mary and Joseph. Certain houses are designated to be an “inn”. The head of the procession will have a candle inside a paper lampshade. At each house, the resident responds by singing a song and 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 (María) 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. Children may carry poinsettias. The procession will be followed by musicians, with the entire procession singing posadas such as pedir posada. At the end of each night’s journey, there will be Christmas carols (villancicos), children will break open star-shaped piñatas to obtain candy and fruit hidden inside, and there will be a feast. Piñatas are traditionally made out of clay. It is expected to meet all the invitees in a previous procession.
To share our experience here are just a couple of photos from last night’s celebration.
Jo Ann and I also had a good time preparing our Posada Bags, which go by the same name as the Christmas bonus we pay all our employees “Aguinaldos”.
If you are interested in what goes into this process, here is a good article.