A real Christmas story
Las Posadas is a nine-day Mexican tradition (a novena) observed annually from December 16 to Christmas Eve. It celebrates the biblical story of Mary and Joseph looking for a sanctuary in Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus.
The term “posada” comes from the Spanish word for “inn” or “shelter.” It is customary for celebrants to dress in biblical clothes and travel to designated houses in their neighborhood to “ask for shelter.” The process of asking for shelter is in a song round that is sung by the procession, and answered back in song from the house playing the inn. The house denies them shelter a few times before allowing them entrance to celebrate inside.
Fun, then feast
Once inside the designated posada, which may be a church rather than a home, people read Bible verses and eat traditional fare like tamales, buñuelos, atole and café de olla. Before feasting, children are invited to break a star-shaped piñata filled with toys, fruits, candies, and, sometimes, money.
Why nine days?
This religious ritual repeats itself every day for nine days to represent the trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem.