Las Posadas: A Latin American Tradition

The holiday season.  A time of year so obviously seeped with rich traditions. Regardless of your religious affiliation, chances are there are some type of festivities you participate in this time of year. But one you may not have heard about is Las Posadas. Several years ago, while teaching 5th grade, I had an excited little girl, newly immigrated from Mexico, tell me about Las Posadas. Through her limited Engish, I gathered the importance of this holiday in her culture and knew I wanted to know more. 

Las Posadas is a Latin American holiday, mainly celebrated in Mexico, rooted in Christianity which takes place the 9 days leading up to Christmas. Approximately 69% of individuals in Latin America are Catholic. Seeing as Latin America consists largely of native Spanish speakers, Las Posadas an interesting Spanish tie in to the season to discuss with our students in Spanish immersion programs. 

Each evening between December 16th and 24th, groups of people knock on doors throughout the neighborhood until they reach a designated house.  This is to represent Mary and Joseph’s pilgrimage from Nazarath to Bethlehem, being turned away numerous times as they sought shelter. It is appropriate since the word posadas means inn or lodging.  It takes place 9 nights to represent the 9 months of pregnancy. Often children dress up as angels and shepherds and everyone sings Christmas carols along the procession. Finally, each night the group is welcomed into the last house, just as Mary and Joseph found room at the inn.  Here they are greeted with a party. People celebrate with food, music and star shaped pinatas.  

Whether you view the holiday season as a spiritual event or strictly secular, I think most can agree it is fascinating learning how others celebrate this time of year. By deepening our understanding of rich culture our children are so lucky to be immersed in every day, I believe we are better able to understand what they are experiencing. Las Posadas is just one piece of that puzzle.

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