Christmas is the time of year I have always cherished the most, as it brings back childhood memories of the festivities called “Posadas”, held during the days prior to the main celebration of Christmas Eve itself.
The posadas are a series of parties or fiestas that take place nightly, from the 16th of December until the 24th, and originally represented the re-enactment of the night when Joseph and Mary made their pilgrimage to Bethlehem, seeking shelter, asking for “posada” or a place to rest.
The tradition lives on, and the posada participants are divided into the ones who deny said shelter to the Holy Family and the pilgrims themselves, who go from door to door until finally a good soul offers them the stable and humble manger where the baby Jesus is born, to the tune of “enter, enter, holy pilgrims and receive this corner given from the heart”, and so the party officially begins!
The hosts of each posada offer their guests a traditional fruit punch, sugar cane sticks, oranges, tangerines and small bags filled with candy and peanuts for the children. Tamales, crunchy buñuelos bathed in molasses syrup and many other delicacies are served to the merry “pilgrims”.
In Mexico, posadas are part of a brilliant series of festivities filled with joy, great food, music and a celebration of life and the birth of baby Jesus. I can close my eyes and see myself as a child holding my candle, or Christmas sparkler in my hand, singing the traditional carols. I can see my little cousins, friends and neighbors filled with excited anticipation of the coming Christmas Eve.
For Mexican children, Christmas and the Day of the Kings are the most festive of occasions, with plenty of colorful light decorations, special holiday flavors and happy music. It’s the long-awaited moment when we can become the strongest, hero who manages to break the piñata that pours all kinds of goodies on the crowd below.
Once the piñata bursts open, candies, fruits and gifts rain down upon the children, and although there will always be a smart aleck in the group who manages to gather more treasure than the rest, nobody leaves empty handed!
As you can see, posadas are a living tradition in every corner of Mexico, so you are cordially invited to grab your candle, join the pilgrims and enjoy this traditional fiesta. You’ll be delighted you did!