What Is Las Posadas?

Have you been curious with us for a while? If so, you might already have some knowledge about the winter festivities. Perhaps you’ve read about the eight nights of Hanukkah or the 12 days of Christmas. Today’s Wonder of the Day is about another winter custom—Las Posadas!

What is Las Posadas? It’s a festival that lasts for nine days and is celebrated in Mexico, as well as other countries in Latin America. Some people in the southwestern U.S. also observe this holiday. It starts on December 16 and ends on December 24. In English, “posadas” means “inns” or “lodging.”

Las Posadas commemorates the journey of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her husband, Joseph. According to the Christian faith, the couple traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a safe place for Mary to give birth to Jesus.

However, Mary and Joseph were turned away from all the inns they came across. Finally, one innkeeper allowed them to seek shelter in his stable. Christians believe that this is where Jesus was born.

The celebration of Las Posadas dates back to 1586. In that year, a friar near Mexico City conducted special Catholic masses each night for nine days leading up to Christmas. Since then, the festival has evolved.

How do people celebrate Las Posadas today? In many ways, the festival reenacts the story of Mary and Joseph. Every night, children dress up as angels and lead their families and others through town. At each home, they sing Christmas carols and request lodging.

Traditionally, each home turns the procession away. However, the residents often offer refreshments. Many provide the group with a drink called ponche. This is a fruit punch made with sugar, cinnamon, and fruits like guavas and oranges.

Finally, a final home allows the group to enter. There, a celebration ensues, often including a feast, fireworks, and even a piñata. The participants also take part in mass.

Does your family celebrate Las Posadas? If so, you know it can be a very special time. It’s an opportunity for people to come together and contemplate the significance of the Christmas holiday. What traditions hold importance in your family? Take some time today to reflect on what makes them special.

Try It Out

Ready to learn more? Get a friend or family member to assist you with the following activities.

  • After learning about Las Posadas, are you interested in other Christmas traditions in Hispanic culture? Take a look at this article that explores different Hispanic traditions that make Christmas a truly wonderful time of the year. Do you take part in any of these traditions? Are there any similarities between these traditions and the ones you observe? Share your favorite traditions with a friend or family member and discover their favorites as well.
  • What are your favorite winter holiday traditions? Perhaps you enjoy traditional Christmas activities such as singing carols or decorating a Christmas tree. Maybe you celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa and engage in different activities. Write a story about your favorite winter holiday tradition. How does it compare to the tradition of Las Posadas? Share your story with a friend or family member.
  • One important element of Las Posadas is piñatas. However, Las Posadas piñatas are unique. Instead of being shaped like animals, they are shaped like seven-pointed stars. The good news is that you can make your own! Seek the help of a trusted adult or family member to create a Las Posadas piñata.

Sources of Wonder

  • https://www.britannica.com/topic/Las-Posadas (accessed 01 Dec. 2021)
  • https://www.franciscanmedia.org/st-anthony-messenger/december-2019/las-posadas-a-mexican-christmas-tradition (accessed 01 Dec. 2021)
  • https://nationaltoday.com/las-posadas/ (accessed 01 Dec. 2021)
  • https://taos.org/events/las-posadas/ (accessed 01 Dec. 2021)
  • https://learnersdictionary.com/ (accessed 01 Dec. 2021)

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