What is a posada?
Hello everyone!!! Have you ever wondered how do Mexicans prepare for Christmas? Yes that’s right, celebrating!!! December is not only about the 24th and 25th but it is a full month of downright pre-Christmas partying… keep reading this article if you want to know more.
A posada is a mexican festivity celebrated 9 days before Christmas. Nine nights of food, beautiful colors and fun with friends and family. According to tradition, these festivities which are held in remembrance of Mary ́s and Joseph’s pilgrimage towards Bethlehem, are part of the mexican culture since colonial times.
In Mexico, there is a record of a Fray Diego de San Soria who was in charge of the Augustinian monastery Acolman in the current State of Mexico, that requested a papal bull to the former pope Sixto V to celebrate every year aguinaldo masses to commemorate the Holy Family’s pilgrimage from december 16 to december 24.
Ever since that moment, the mexican streets where filled with thousands of people iluminating the way with candles. Everyone would sing and dance, but at a precise moment they would kneel and pray at the church’s gates. You could say it is a perfect way to merge religious and wordly activities. It was an original mix of fun and devotion which made mexican posadas something quite beautiful and unique among the world.
In the 19th century, posadas were held at particular homes decorated with colorful papers and allusive figures. Every house, rich or poor, gathered together with friends and family to pray, sing, dance and eat. When the prayers were finished the hosts offered a show with fireworks for the enjoyment of their guests.
Nowadays not all the families keep the traditions, there are some posadas which are more of a party and less of a religious celebration. However, it is always worth to relive the classic posadas like how it is done in some neighbourhoods where all the neighbors cooperate and celebrate together.
What do you need to make a traditional mexican posada?
- Books of litany.
- A traditional mexican candy called “colación”
- Paper baskets.
- One piñata.
- A rope.
- Fruits and other related foods like: peanuts, tangerines, limes, sugar canes and tejocotes.
- Flares and other types of fireworks.
- Papel picado (itched paper).
It is common to offer food to your guests like atole which is a traditional mexican beverage made of masa (corn hominy flour), water, piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar), cinnamon, vanilla and optional chocolate or fruit. The mixture is blended and heated before serving, tamales (a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa or dough usually corn-based, which is steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf), or buñuelos (is a fried dough ball, in Mexican cuisine, it is often served with a syrup made with piloncillo and/or sugar).
For the celebration:
o The house is decorated with lanterns and papel picado (itched paper).
o For the procession, the guests should make a line and sing the litany’s paragraphs. The Holy Pilgrims should lead the line.
o Afterwards, the attendees will divide in two groups: the first one will ask for posada from outside the house and the second group will answer from the inside and offer them posada.
o When the prayers are finished, the hosts share paper baskets with some of the colación inside of it, the flares and the whistles.
o Finally, the most expected and exciting part of the posada arrives: breaking the piñata!
o Once the piñata is finally broken, the hosts give each guest some of the fruit and a cup of warm atole, this will be the perfect companion for the delicious tamales and buñuelos.
Now you know what to expect in a posada and how to organize your very own. Come and experience the Christmas magic in Mexico!
Happy Holidays and see you next time!