Posadas are an important part of Mexican Christmas traditions. These community celebrations take place on each of the nine nights leading up to Christmas, from December 16 to 24th. The word posada means “inn” or “shelter” in Spanish, and in this tradition, Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and their search for a place to stay is re-enacted.
Posadas are held in neighborhoods across Mexico and are also becoming popular in the United States.
The celebration begins with a procession in which the participants hold candles and sing Christmas carols. Sometimes there will be individuals who play the parts of Mary and Joseph who lead the way, or occasionally images representing them are carried. The procession will make its way to a particular home (a different one each night), where a special song (La Cancion Para Pedir Posada) is sung.
Asking for Shelter
There are two parts to the traditional posada song. Those outside the house sing the part of Joseph asking for shelter and the family inside responds singing the part of the innkeeper saying that there is no room. The song switches back and forth a few times until finally the innkeeper decides to let them in. The hosts open the door and everyone goes inside.
Once inside the house there is a celebration which can vary from a very big fancy party to a small get-together among friends. Often the festivities begin with a short Bible reading and prayer. Then the hosts give the guests food, usually tamales and a hot drink such as ponche or atole. Then the guests break piñatas and the children are given candy.
The nine nights of posadas leading up to Christmas are said to represent the nine months that Jesus spent in Mary’s womb, or alternatively, to represent the nine days’ journey to Bethlehem.
Our Posada celebration will not be for nine days, but for just one evening on Thursday, December 21. We are inviting the Wesley UMC Church to participate in this beautiful celebration in order to contribute to a more unified community in the heart of downtown San José.
We will start the festivities at 6:00 P.M. at the Wesley UMC Church, located at 566 North 5th Street, in a procession with candles. We will sing Christmas carols during our walk to San José First UMC, where we will perform our beautiful tradition for the third year in a row. Everyone in our Methodist congregations are invited, as well as all the people in the downtown neighborhood.
Participants will experience the Mexican representation of Christmas with its traditional costumes, Biblical readings, and songs. And finally, everyone is invited to enjoy a dinner cooked by Gerardo—authentic Mexican Pozole—accompanied by coffee, tea, and water. If anyone one wants to bring something for dessert or a dish to share, they are welcome to do so. We thank you and hope to see you on December 21st.
Attend and have fun!
— Gerardo Vazquez-Padilla