A Celebration of Community and Tradition
The Mexican posada is unlike any other in the world. Like most aspects of our cultura, it blends together the newness of Catholic ceremonies with the old ways of our indigenous ancestors. The first posadas are said to be celebrated in 1586 at the heart of Mexico City where the friar, Diego de Soria was granted a papal decree allowing such ceremony. The dates were declared as officially beginning on Dec. 16th and ending on Nochebuena, the 24th.
Coincidentally, these dates correlated with the Aztec celebration of the god Huitzilopochtli. To pay tribute to the god of war and sun, the Aztec people created images of their idol made from edible pastes and corn. A feast commemorated Huitzilopochtli’s gifts to the Earth. Pretty soon, this ancient tradition was married to the religious ceremony re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s journey into Bethlehem.
Today, posadas hold more than religious meaning. Posadas have moved from the church and into communities where neighbors organize feasts and fiestas to celebrate the coming of baby Jesus. Usually, community members either dress up or carry images of Mary and Joseph and begin a “journey” through their neighborhood, singing Christmas carols accompanied by candlelights and asking for “posada” or shelter in the homes of their friends and family. The group is rejected at the doors just like Mary and Joseph were rejected multiple times by the innkeeper. Finally, the congregation arrives at the home hosting this year’s fiesta and they are granted shelter.
Before the party starts, a Bible verse and prayer are read by the hosts. Usually, this is the time where community leaders and members alike share what they are grateful for and remind each other to open their doors to the less fortunate. Then, the piñatas are brought out for the kids and the celebrations commence with the vibrant colors and festive music characteristic of our people.
No one does a party like a Mexican but posadas are more than a big end-of-the-year bash, they are a show of solidarity and community that becomes rarer and rarer in modern times. This year, make sure to hold your family close and your values even closer. Enjoy your atole with your neighbors and stick together like you mean it.