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Las Posadas: A Traditional Christmas Celebration in Mexico

Las Posadas

Posadas are yearly religious Christmas tradition observed by Catholic Mexicans. Posada literally translates to “Inn” and it is celebrated in Mexico and some parts of the United States. Latin America celebrates something similar known as “Novena.” 

The Posadas symbolize the journey that Joseph and Mary made to find a safe place where baby Jesus could be born. These community celebrations start on December 16th and continue through each of the 9 nights leading up to Christmas Eve, ending on December 24th. The nine nights of posadas are said to represent Mary and Joseph’s nine day journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. 

The posadas are organized by neighborhood committees and each night, a different family hosts the celebration. Other people in the neighborhood contribute food, candy, and piñatas so that the host family isn’t responsible for all the costs. 

las posadas

The celebration begins with a procession to the host’s home and along the way participants sing Christmas carols. Sometimes people act out the parts of Mary and Joseph and lead the procession and other times just their images are carried. 

Once the procession has arrived at the host’s home, a special song (La Cancion Para Pedir Posada) is sung. The song is broken up into two parts. Those outside the house play the role of Joseph and ask for shelter, those inside the house play the role of the innkeeper and say there is no room. The song switches back and forth until finally the innkeeper opens the door and let’s everyone inside.  

Once inside, the festivities usually begin with a bible reading and a prayer. Afterwards, the host puts out the food, which is often tamales and a hot drink. The highlight of any posada is breaking piñatas which are typically broken by children. Children are given a stick, blindfolded, and rotated around a couple of times before being asked to hit the piñata.  

The seven cones around the spherical core of the piñata represent the seven deadly sinslust, gluttony, greed, laziness, anger, envy and pride. The bright colors are temptation, the blindfold is faith and the stick is virtue. Breaking the piñata blindly represents the triumph of virtue over temptation, and the reward is all the goodies that fall from inside the piñata once it is broken. 

The tradition seems to be one of many examples of how the Catholic religion in Mexico was adapted to blend with the beliefs of the indigenous people. The Aztecs had a tradition of honoring their god Huitzilopochtli at the same time of year. Friars took advantage of the coincidence to combine the two celebrations. The Aztecs also used to break clay pots with small treasures to celebrate religious occasions. 

On December 21st, Garza Blanca Preserve in Puerto Vallarta invites you to live the experience of a Christmas Posada.  At this event, you will also enjoy various exhibitors of Talavera, mezcal, Huichol art and beach jewelry, 

Cost: $38 USD  

Time: 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm 

Includes: Christmas Show, Taco night, Main Pool, Piñata