The Celebration of Las Posadas
Posada para María y José
Above: Yolanda Salazar (l)
and her granddaughter
Patricia Drewing are prepared
to celebrate Las Posadas.
Left: A doll depicting Baby
By Jonathan Gramling
Within the Christian faith community, there are many ways to observe the coming of Christmas
whether it is Lent in the United States or Simbang Gabi in The Philippines where they start
celebrating Christmas in September. And then there is Las Posadas celebrated in Mexico, which
is celebrated between December 16th and 24th in Mexico.
“A long time ago in Mexico, we started to celebrate it,” said Yolanda Salazar. “It’s to remember
when San José and Maria Virgin had to go out because they needed someplace to sleep because
Maria was pregnant.”
Las Posadas can be a family event or involve the whole neighborhood.
“We get the Virgin and San José and we walk with them asking for a place to stay because
Jesus is going to be born,” Salazar said. “If they have the costumes, they dress like Santa Maria
and San José. Otherwise we carry the Nativity scene without the Baby Jesus because he isn’t
born until December 24th. On December 24th, Jesus is in the Posadas and is in the Nativity. We
sing at every house and San José says, ‘Please let me get in. My wife is going to have a baby.’
The people in the home say, ‘No I don’t know you and your wife.’ We start singing again, ‘Yes we
need to stay because Baby Jesus is going to be born.’ Finally after singing many verses and the
people at home finally let the Virgin Maria and San José come in. And then the party starts to
The same thing happens every night until December 24th when Jesus was born, with families taking turns being las posadas
where the observance is held.
“We sing at the parties,” Salazar said. “They are singing many things about when Jesus was born. There are other songs for
holidays. And then in this house when they let Maria and José get in and stay, then this family makes a party. They will have food.
They will have candy for the children. They are going to have a piñata. We usually have tamales and pozoles. Pozoles is white
hominy, white corn, with pork or chicken. It’s also cooked with different peppers as a side dish. We make a spicy side in case
someone wants it spicy, they can put the sauce on the pozoles. When they serve the pozoles, then we also have a separate salad
with radishes, lettuce, onions, oregano, lime and lemon. Then when you have your food, you can put all of these things in your pozoles. And the tamales, they are like
a big sandwich. They make a drink, atoles, made with chocolate and corn flour. There are different foods that they can offer. But usually in every house, there is
ponche, a fruit punch made with guava, sugar cane and other fruit.”
And then on December 24th, the observance changes.
“On December 24th, we go to a service, a mass,” Salazar said. “Then we sing and we come to our houses to have a good night waiting for Baby Jesus to be born.
We start at midnight and when Baby Jesus is born. We sing lullabies. It is a beautiful tradition.”
While COVID-19 is preventing Salazar, her family and others from observing Las Posadas this year at church, the tradition of food, candy and piñatas will continue
on along with celebrating the birth of Jesus, which takes on new meaning — and new hope — in our pandemic-ravaged times.