One of my favorite things to do during the holidays (and holy ways) is to learn more about the traditions associated with the feast days. Although it’s true that the world seems to be getting “smaller” due to the worldwide connectivity, sometimes we get stuck in our own little world and don’t expand our horizons. It’s one thing to read about certain traditions but it’s another to make the effort to experience it for yourself.
That’s why I highly recommend checking out Las Posadas, a traditional Mexican celebration performed during Advent, for yourself.
What are Las Posadas?
Las Posadas is mostly associated with Christmas is actually done during the Advent season. During the “Posadas” (Spanish for “inn” or “shelter”), two people, portraying the still-pregnant Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, go from location to location looking for a place to welcome Jesus into the world. During this reenactment, in which Mary and Joseph go from location to location seeking shelter, the participants follow along holding candles and singing songs associated with the journey and Christ’s birth.
During the Posadas, a song is sung that represents St. Joseph asking for shelter at each stop. The family or participants inside the location will reply, also in song, that there is no room for them. The songs are repeated until the “innkeeper(s)” agree to let them, allowing the participants to enter the location.
At the end of the journey (Christmas Eve), candy-filled piñatas are brought out as a treat for the children to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Traditionally, the Posadas take place from December 16th through the 24th but some places do it in a single day if they’re unable to stretch it out for the 9 days.
Where to experience Las Posadas
You can attend a Posadas for a single night or for the entire week in a number of different places. In cities where there is a large Mexican population, there is usually a designated location where the Posadas take place. For example, in Los Angeles, they’ll be held at La Placita Olvera (Olvera Street)—the hub of Mexican culture in the city—from the 16th through the 24th.
Some cities and towns have them on a single night anytime between the second weekend of December and Christmas Eve. If you’re lucky and there’s a thriving Mexican community in your parish, you can also check in and see if they will be holding Las Posadas, and a special Mass, on parish property.
Why Las Posadas are the perfect Advent celebration
Las Posada is typically done over a period of nine days, which represents the nine months our Blessed Mother carried Jesus in her womb. Alternatively, you can also consider it a type of novena if you meditate on things such as detachment from worldly things, trust in God, purity, humility, and other virtues (one per night) during the procession.
Just like the actors portraying the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph lead the procession from location to location, are called to follow their lead in this life by trustfully surrendering to the will of God. Even when one door seems to shut out a potential opportunity, we must remember to trust in God’s Divine Providence because He will provide exactly what we need. And, an added bonus for those of you who are parents, it’s the perfect way to teach your children about the birth of Christ in a way that they’ll never forget.
If you can’t find a local place that will be holding Posadas, you can always look up the videos on YouTube to get a taste of this wonderful tradition. However, if you can make it to one and be a part of the procession, you will not be sorry.