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Christmas in Mexico: What are Las Posadas?

Las Posadas are an endearing a part of the Christmas holidays in Mexico that give pleasure to younger and outdated. These days, any celebration held on these dates could also be known as a posada. Conventional ones, although, start with a procession in remembrance of the biblical story wherein Mary and Joseph looked for shelter to have their little one. 

Every gathering, held over the course of 9 days earlier than Christmas, options dwell music and singing, youngsters dressed as angels, piñatas, and engaging meals. You’ll discover them in each nook of Mexico, although celebrations additionally happen in a number of different Latin American international locations and elements of america! 

Beneath, we’ll take a better take a look at this centuries-old custom. You’ll discover we’ve included must-know Spanish vocabulary that may show you how to deepen your understanding of Las Posadas. To take your Spanish and cultural data a step additional, strive Rosetta Stone. Our enjoyable, immersive strategy to studying permits our customers to get conversation-ready very quickly. 

What are Las Posadas? 

Las Posadas are a form of touring dramatic work and prolonged prayer that happen over the course of the 9 nights earlier than Christmas. This custom dates again over 400 years to the early days of Spanish colonization, when Spanish friars led the celebrations throughout Mexico. These days, neighborhoods and native church buildings manage these occasions. 

Every evening is a reenactment of the biblical narrative of Joseph and Mary’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in seek for a spot for Mary to present delivery. 

To retell this story, neighbors in Mexico begin planning for Las Posadas months upfront, however most individuals simply get to point out up and revel in the fantastic thing about Las Posadas. 9 homes are chosen for every of the nights, from December 16-24, and naturally the primary actors, normally youngsters, and musicians are chosen as effectively. 

We’ll take you thru the procession, songs, conventional meals, and extra under. 



Every evening, two youngsters are chosen to play the position of Mary and Joseph. Others are dressed as angels and shepherds, and sometimes, there’s even a donkey. The members are known as pastores, which suggests “shepherds.” If you happen to see a number of youngsters wearing robes, you’ve discovered a posada! 

The procession can begin wherever on the town, and whereas a handful of performers will wait contained in the designated home, an angel or two “captains” are chosen to steer the procession. 

One individual leads the procession with a luminaria, a lit candle in a paper or cellophane holder. They could carry luces de bengala (“sparklers”) as effectively. The remainder of the group follows by way of the streets singing and enjoying music till they attain the designated home. Flowers or spiritual statuary can also be carried by the members. 

Singing and non secular parts

As soon as the group reaches the home, there’s a name and response that happens. The individuals of the group outdoors piden posada (ask for lodging), and that evening’s host and group responds from inside. 

To reflect the biblical story, the members are refused lodging. Recited scripture or prayers might play a component within the occasion, both on the home or alongside the best way. Generally the processions finish on the native church, the place mass is claimed.

However as soon as the procession is over—and within the spirit of the vacations—the group is welcomed in and the celebration begins, full with conventional food and drinks. Christmas carols known as villancicos are additionally sung, and dancing might happen.

On the ultimate evening, December 24, Mary and Joseph are lastly given posada (a spot to remain)—simply in time for Christmas day celebrations. 


Piñatas, punch, and meals

Piñatas are the lifetime of the celebration at any occasion. Throughout Las Posadas, they actually get the possibility to shine! For this vacation, piñatas are sometimes within the type of a star, which represents the one which guided the Three Smart Males to Bethlehem. 

A baby is blindfolded and gently circled to disorient them a bit, and different youngsters sing a tune known as “Rompe la piñata” (“Break the Piñata”). The blindfolded little one tries to hit the piñata, normally held on a rope, with a stick whereas adults transfer the piñata up and down on the rope. 

Though not well-known, the piñata ritual has ties to historic Mayan and Aztec practices, later adopted by Catholic missionaries in Mexico. Normally handmade of clay pots and painted paper mache, piñatas comprise sweets, nuts, and fruit. 

Kids and adults alike usually obtain a scrumptious scorching ponche (punch) product of dried and recent fruit, pure sugarcane, and pilloncillo, a form of brown sugar. Snacks or a lightweight meal like tamales are served, and friends obtain celebration favors known as aguinaldos to take dwelling.

>> Equip your self with Spanish phrases and phrases so that you’ll be prepared for the vacation season.

The place does Las Posadas happen? 

Las Posadas typically happens by neighborhood. Typically linked to a specific Catholic parish, Las Posadas requires the dedication and group of a giant group of neighbors. Due to the planning concerned, Las Posadas are restricted to a small space of a city or metropolis. Elementary faculties usually have a single-event posada earlier than winter break.

What do individuals put on throughout Las Posadas?

Los pastores, the youngsters who take part in Las Posadas, normally put on selfmade costumes, or ones purchased at conventional Mexican markets known as tianguis (derived from the Nahuatl). These costumes characteristic white robes, feathered wings, and sparkly halos. You’ll see plenty of angels and tinsel! 

Whereas there are a number of costume choices for the opposite characters, there’ll at all times be a pair of kids dressed as Mary and Joseph, and a trio costumed because the Three Smart Males (in anticipation of Three Kings Day). These costumes normally encompass satiny tunics with a rope belt and probably a further piece of cloth worn to the facet over one shoulder and a headcovering. Metallic trim is widespread too. 

Extra elaborate and codified costumes are additionally used, particularly for Christmas Eve. That stated, for easier posadas, there aren’t any costumes, and both means, adults not often gown up.

What tune is sung throughout Las Posadas?

A particular litany is sung throughout las Posadas by two teams, these outdoors the dwelling, los peregrinos who ask for lodging, and people inside, los hospederos who at first deny entrance to the peregrinos till they’re instructed it’s the “Queen of the Heavens” outdoors. 

Although the tune isn’t troublesome to sing, it’s well-known for extending the vowels for a number of notes on every line. Individuals normally carry a small e book or paper in order that they don’t neglect their a part of the tune. By the tip of the trade, los hospederos sing: ¡Entren santos peregrinos, peregrinos! (Are available in holy pilgrims!). When you’ve heard this tune, it’ll be exhausting to get it out of your head! 

>> Unsure learn how to pronounce tune lyrics in Spanish? Strive TruAccent so you may sing your coronary heart out!


What conventional Mexican meals are served throughout Las Posadas?

Appetizers or antojitos are served for Las Posadas, and the menu can range an important deal. Listed here are just some of the various doable dishes that may be served.

  • Buñuelos and scorching chocolate: These are a bit like funnel desserts, besides that they’re utterly flat. They’re served with syrup in a bowl and sometimes accompanied with scorching chocolate. In some locations like Oaxaca the clay pots wherein they’re served could also be (safely) smashed in opposition to a wall or on the bottom as one makes a want for the New Yr.
  • Tostadas: Tostadas are flat tortillas which were fried or baked. From there, the primary layer is mostly refried beans. After that, add no matter your creativeness will enable: shredded rooster, fish, tinga (a rooster dish made with tomatoes), cheese, or chopped beef. They’re usually topped with bitter cream, salsa or pickled chilis, tomato, lettuce and avocado. Mm!
  • Atole: There’s no nice translation for the phrase atole besides to say that it’s comforting and warming on a cold winter evening. With an immense variety of methods to arrange it, let’s simply say atole is a wealthy, creamy scorching drink made with some form of grain, which is flippantly sweetened and flavored. Normally made with corn or typically oatmeal, strawberry, chocolate, or cinnamon are widespread flavors–however there’s even one made with spicy chili! No matter means it’s made, atole is a welcome drink after an evening of singing.

Easy methods to have fun Las Posadas in Mexico or at dwelling

If you wish to be sure you attend Las Posadas in Mexico, you may ask about them on the native vacationer workplace, at your lodge, or along with your neighbors. Most cities even have an official web site that posts occasions. If you happen to’re in Mexico for Christmas, you’ll additionally in all probability run right into a posada by merely being out and about within the early night on December 16-24.

Mexican holidays are an actual deal with, however in case you can’t make it to Mexico, there are normally choices in huge U.S. cities, particularly within the Southwest. We’ve made a listing of a number of the well-known posada celebrations in america for you:

  • San Antonio, Texas: What’s often called La Gran Posada, the good or huge posada, is held in two locations, the cathedral and the basilica, yearly.
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico: Based by the Spanish in 1607, New Mexico’s model of Las Posadas has been celebrated for forty-six years across the plaza and on the New Mexico Historical past Museum.
  • St. Augustine, Florida: One other city based by the Spanish (in 1565), St. Augustine additionally holds an annual posada on the Mission Nombre de Dios.
  • Los Angeles, California: How can a metropolis known as The Angels not have fun Las Posadas? It’s been a practice to carry posadas on Olvera Road for the reason that Nineteen Thirties. Posadas are additionally held in a number of the state parks in California. 

What different festivities happen throughout Christmas in Mexico? 

Greater than a day, Christmas includes a whole season in Mexico. It lasts from mid-December to early February!

Here’s a checklist of the necessary dates throughout las Fiestas Navideñas (“Christmas season festivities”) in Mexico:

  • December 12: Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (Virgin of Guadalupe Day)
  • December 16-24: Las Posadas
  • December 24: Nochebuena (Christmas Eve)
  • December 25: Navidad (Christmas Day)
  • December 28: Día de los Santos Inocentes (Holy Innocents Day)
  • January 6: Día de los Tres Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day)
  • February 2: Candelaria (Candlemas)

Benefit from each celebration 

Whether or not you resolve to get pleasure from Las Posadas at dwelling or in Mexico, studying Spanish will enrich your expertise because it means that you can talk with extra individuals. If you happen to’re working with a various group, your Hispanic purchasers will recognize your data of their traditions. Or possibly you’re a Spanish heritage speaker who needs to impress your abuelita (grandmother) for Christmas.

Irrespective of the explanation you’re within the Spanish language and Mexican traditions, studying Spanish with Rosetta Stone received’t lavatory you down with tedious memorization. As an alternative, it’ll immerse you in a pure language setting, and also you’ll be in your solution to singing at Las Posadas earlier than you may say santos peregrinos.

Written by Rowena Galavitz

Rowena Galavitz is a Spanish translator, bilingual copy editor, and language and literature teacher with three grasp’s levels who loves Spanish and all issues Mexico.



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