Christmas in Mexico means Posadas

Posadas are a big part of a traditional Mexican Christmas. Posada  means “shelter” or “inn” in Spanish.  The posadas are  a celebration of the Nativity. The posadas  are celebrations that are what is called a “Novena” = a ninth, because it is held 9 days before “Noche Buena”.  Literally in Spanish Christmas Eve is called  “the Good Night “(Holly Night).  The posasadas consist of a reenactment of Mary & Joseph on their journey in search of shelter. Whole neighborhoods participate in posadas. As the Christmas season approaches people meet in anticipation to plan their neighborhood posadas, raise money, &  appoint the different duties.  A different neighbor will schedule a night for the Posada to be held at their home, beggining with 16th of December and ending with the 24th =Noche Buena.  Each house has a  Nativity scene.  *It is also common for posadas to be held at schools as Christmas  parties/festivals  & all teachers, school children  & their families take part in them. THE REENACTMENTS: The neighbors choosen for that night to host the posada at their house will play the inn keepers. The rest of the neighbors will be the “Peregrinos” =the Pilgrims looking for shelter.  The neighbors chosen to represent the main parts of the  Peregrinos: that is Mary & Joseph(usualy teenagers) carry statutes of Mary and Joseph on their journey. In some posadas however they will dress up and play the parts in that  manner instead. Some are so dedicated to holding a good posada that  authentic costumes and a donkey are procured for the procession. Everyone walks through the neighborhood in a choral processsion. The leader of the procession will have a candles inside of a paper lamp shade that looks like an accordion but open at the top and it is called a “Farolito” or little lantern.  Others may also have small candle sticks.  The posadas are know for their bright colors and magical twinkling lights.  Usually a neighbor who is able to play guitar will accompany the group, for those enough lucky to raised the fund or get a group to help out,  a set musicians (sometimes Mariachis) are their accompaniment. They go along singing the same simple little song at each home they stop at :

The Posada Chant (translation from )

Outside: (The Pilgrims)

In the name of heaven, I ask you for shelter
because my beloved wife can continue no longer.

Inside: (The Inn Keepers)
This is no inn, continue on your way.
I am not about to open. You may be a scoundrel.

Don’t be inhuman. Have mercy.
For the God of the heavens will reward you.

Go away, and don’t bother us
because if I get angry I will hit you.

We come exhausted all the way from Nazareth;
I am a carpenter by the name of Joseph.

I don’t care what your name is. Let me go back to sleep,
I am telling you, I am not about to open.

The queen of heaven is asking for shelter,
just for one night, dear landlord,

Well, if it is a queen who is asking?
How is it that at night, she travels so alone?

My wife is Mary, she is queen of Heaven,
and she will be mother of the Divine Word.

Are you Joseph, your wife is Mary?
Come in, pilgrims, I did not recognize you.

May God reward your great charity, good people,
and fill the heavens with happiness.

Blessed be the house that shelters this day,
the pure Virgin, the beautiful Mary!

Final Verse Upon Entering.
Enter holy pilgrims.
Pilgrims, accept this corner; Although the dwelling is poor,
I give it to you with all my heart.
Let us sing with joy, joy.
Let us reflect together, that Jesus, Joseph and Mary,
have come today to honor us. (Repeat)

After reaching the home that was chosen to hold the  posada * the home that is suppose to be the inn giving shelter, a rosary is prayed there around the Nativity scene . Last but not least, before the reenactment can be complete baby Jesus in placed in the manger in the Nativity scene. Along with the Rosary, traditional Christmas hymns are sung. After prayer the party  begins. At the party there are performances, folkloric and non there is dancing and eating and great fun and merriment. There is a piñata which is the big attraction for the children. * Piñatas originally came from Europe, but were adopted for celebrations where children are involved. There are many diffrent varieties of piñatas, but of course a star shape is popular for Xmas. Beside candies , peanuts and oranges are very popular stuffing for piñatas. While waiting for the piñata to be broken the children often sing  ♪”La piñata tine ca-ca- tine ca-ca, cahuates de a  monton” = The piñata filed with with pe-pe ,filled pe-pe, pe-nuts by the ton. ♪ Besides the piñata colorful farolitos= little paper lanterns are what help to make the posadas a colorful and festive time.

The  main event for the adults is the Ponche, a  Punch known as “Ponche con Piquete” =(punch with a sting). The punch is served  hot  & contains  seasonal winter fruits,  cinnamon sticks, &  with a shot of alcoholic spririt.

On Christmas Eve: Families attend Mass(Misa de Noche Buena) at midnight. When Mass is done, everyone reunites in the homes of  family &  friends to have dinner. For some it is traditional to reunite & celebrate at  grandparents homes. Others alternate as to who’s home will hold the Christmas dinner. *  Guest, even last minute ones are ALWAYS welcomed.  Big families reunite to spend this special night together, have a big feast, bond and give thanks for being together. FOOD: Tamales are very popular, but there are a varity of things prepared along with or instead of such a dish.  Pozole(hominy),  chilles rellenos(stuffed bell peppers)buñuelos(fried tortillas sprinkled with sugar)turkey, among many others are the fair for some who opt out of Tamales.  Each family has a different Christmas dish they prefer.

This was a city(goverment) organized posada hence the picture taking and camera crew.

People asking for posada @ a neighborhood restaurant. Posadas really are beautiful for their inclusion of whole neighborhoods.