Las Posadas

The Shelter

After the end of the Virgin of Guadalupe celebration and beginning Dec. 16th is Las Posadas.

Las Posadas is nine days of childrens processions depicting the journey of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph to find shelter (posada) in Bethlehem. Children dress up as various santos peregrinos (holy pilgrims): Mary, Joseph, angels, Santos Reyes (the three kings), and pastoras (shepherds and shepherdesses).

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The procession of these santos peregrinos travels to three designated houses where they will sing traditional villancicos (carols) asking for shelter for the holy family. The procession is turned away by the first two houses but when they reach the third home they are invited inside to take refuge in the stable and what follows is a joyful fiesta.

Once inside the home, children and adults alike partake in singing villancicos, the telling christmas stories through pastorelas (plays), admiring the Nacimiento (nativity scene) , breaking the pinata, eating christmas foods, and giving and recieving aguinaldo (presents).

Las Posadas may seem steeped in christian roots but it is also equally reminicent of ancient native traditions. The dates of this holiday coincide with the nine days the Aztecs celebrated the birth of their sun god, Huitzilopchtli. Pastorelas derive from the real life historical reenactments of the Nahuatl people.

Spanish missionaries took these origional customs and incorporated them into the christian holiday celebrations in order to convert the minds and hearts of the native peoples to Catholisism.

Find out more about Mexican Christmas Celebrations:
Feliz Navidad

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