Las Posadas

elizname2smallThere are many ways to Celebrate the Christmas season.  One of the most meaningful, known as Las Posadas ( the inns), takes place in Mexico and some parts of the Southwestern U.S.  Beginning December 16, it celebrates the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

posadas-4In a community, families will arrange to host each night of the Posada.  Often the streets will be lined with “luminarias,” small candles placed in paper bags for a beautiful effect.  After dark a procession begins led by two children.  They carry a small pine platform with replicas of Joseph and Mary riding a donkey.  Other members of the company follow, carrying long slender candles and singing . 

As they approach the door of the first house they chant a traditional song and awaken the master of the house to ask lodging for Mary.  Those within the house threaten them with beatings unless they move on.  Again the company pleads for admittance.  When the owner of the house finally learns who his guests are, he welcomes them in.  They kneel around a manger scene, where they offer songs and a prayer.

posadas-2After that they celebrate with refreshments, dancing and a piñata—a decorated pot filled with candies, which the children try to break with a stick.

On Christmas Eve, small children dressed as shepherds stand on either side of the nativity scene while members of the company kneel and sing a cradle song.  At midnight the birth of Christ is announced with fireworks, ringing bells and blowing whistles.  Worshippers attend a special mass, then return home to a tremendous dinner of traditional Mexican foods.

Here is a translated and shortened version of the song that is sung on the nights of “La Posadas”.  It’s even more beautiful in Spanish.

La Fiesta de la Posada, when we light luminaries, and we swing at la piñata.  La Fiesta de la Posada.posadas-1  Come follow me. Come follow me.

(Solo) Do you have any room at this inn?  (All) No, no, so sorry, no.  (Solo) Just a room you will let us sleep in?  (All) No, No, so sorry, no.  Now you must go.

(Solo) Do you have space to let us lie down? (All) No, no, so sorry, no.  (Solo) Do you know of a place in this town?  (All) No, No, so sorry, no.  Now you must go.

(Solo) Do you have any place we can stay?  (All) Well, yes, the stable next.  (Solo) Do you mean we can rest in the hay?  (All) Well, yes.  It’s not the best, but be my guest.


cowboy-christmasDoes your family have a special way of celebrating the holidays?  Whatever your plans , I wish you peace and joy at this special time.

+ posts

13 thoughts on “Las Posadas”

  1. Hi Elizabeth, I’ve never seen “Las Posadas,” but I’ve heard of it and can just imagine the candles. It must be beautiful.

    My own family tradition for the holidays is about a certain kind of cookie. My grandmother used to make almond crescents, and I’ve kept the tradition. It’s not Christmas until I’ve had those cookies!

  2. I’ve never seen “Las Posadas”either, Vicki, even though I’ve lived in Latin America. Years ago some new neighbors from New Mexico passed out paper bags and candles around the neighborhood and directions to put them out on Christmas Eve. They were lovely.
    Your almond crescents sound wonderful. What a great tradition.

  3. I’ve never heard of this. Thanks, Elizabeth, for sharing.

    My favorite of our traditions begins Christmas Eve night. We come home following a late church service and toast in Christmas Day as a family. It started because my mother was a church organist and worked until midnight. We’ve kept it going because we enjoy the time together.

  4. My mom in law goes to Texas for the winter and the Catholic church she attends has a posada tradition, all the children walking down the center aisle, dressed in white. I’ve never seen it but she loves it. And the luminarias are beautiful. I’ve been down there around Christmas time and love them.
    Isn’t it funny….honestly….that these were probably created in a time when they lacked more elaborate decorations, electric lights for example, and they found a way to use candles and a paper bag to make something beautiful.
    I love the idea of that.

  5. What a great post! I’ve been to an abbreviated version of Los Posadas in New Mexico, and it was really magical. 🙂

  6. Isn’t it nice how necessity can create tradition. Love the story of your mother, Tracy.

    And the posada is truly magical, isn’t it, Mary and Amanda? So beautiful and full of meaning. I would love to see it for real.

  7. Our special celebrations usually include a meal.
    This coming Saturday my siblings and I, including
    our families, will get together to celebrate the
    holidays. There will be three generations of us
    present and sharing the joys of the season. The
    following week, on Christmas Day all nineteen of
    our immediate family will gather to share dinner
    and a birthday cake for Baby Jesus’ birthday!

    Pat Cochran

  8. Family is what Christmas is all about, isn’t it, Pat? Three generations! Your celebration sounds wonderful.
    My own family is small–one sister who is busy with her six sons and their offspring, my daughter who doesn’t travel from California for holidays, and my son’s family of five. Traditionally I have my son, his wife and their three children over for a little brunch on Christmas morning. But because they have other family to be with, they only stay for a couple of hours. Then my Christmas is over. Nice, anyway.

  9. Elizabeth,
    Lovely post. With the increased numbers of Hispanic families all over the country, Las Posadas is becoming a more frequent celebration in many communities. I have not yet attended, but will the first opportunity I get.
    When I was a child, my Mother’s family would all attend midnight mass. Afterwards, we would go back to my Grandparent’s house for breakfast. With 9 families, all with many children, it was a joyous affair.
    I hope your family has a wonderful Holiday season!

  10. What a beautiful celebration.
    Our family continues to grow and evolve so our ‘traditions’ are always evolving. It always surprises me when my family tell me that they miss something we have done in the past.

    Merry Christmas to all.

  11. What a lovely post – so wonderful to learn about other traditions.

    Our Christmas traditions are all about family. I have a large extended family – four siblings with a full compliment of spouses, kids, grandkids, love interests, etc – usually about 25-30 of us gather at Mom’s. Everyone brings lots of food and gifts and in addition to the holiday celbrations, we’ll play board games late into the evening

  12. I love the idea of midnight mass, Patricia. Something very wonderful about welcoming Christmas as it arrives. And Las Posadas is a custom that deserves to be more widely spread. Maybe I’ll get a chance to see one myself.

    It really is all about family, isn’t it, Connie and Winnie? Nice as my little family is, I envy people who have large family gatherings, especially this time of year. Happy holidays to all.

Comments are closed.