The Christmas Posadas tradition begins!
Las Posadas is a wonderful 400+ year old Advent celebration in many Latin countries. For 9 days, from December 16th-24th, the faithful prepare for Christmas by acting out and reliving the days Mary and Joseph experienced as they journeyed to Bethlehem, as written in the Gospels.
Mary and Joseph traveled from place to place seeking rest, only to be continually rejected, causing the Baby Jesus to be born in a stable manger.
This Catholic Christmas tradition was brought to Mexico in the 16th century by Spanish Augustinian friars as they evangelized the New World. Today the Las Posadas continues to be a wonderful way share and celebrate our Christian faith and heritage.
The celebration begins with a nighttime procession. Participants hold candles, sing Christmas carols, and play the parts of Mary and Joseph. The procession makes its way to a particular home (a different one each night), where they sing a traditional song (La Cancion Para Pedir Posada – watch below), recite Scripture readings and prayers, and conclude with a festive meal. And piñatas for the kids!
The nine nights of posadas leading up to Christmas are said to represent the nine months that Jesus spent in Mary’s womb, or, to represent a nine-day journey to Bethlehem. The nine days also fits nicely in with the concept of a traditional nine-day novena prayer.
The Las Posadas is a wonderful way to deepen devotion to the Holy Family and to reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation of our Savior Jesus Christ, who was born to the holiest of families in the poorest of material circumstances.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Posada and incorporating this tradition into your Advent celebrations, this pamphlet, Traveling with Mary & Joseph: Praying las Posadas, briefly introduces the Posada experience and offers an abbreviated service for each night. It invites families and individuals to make a spiritual posada using Scripture readings and meditations for further reflection.
Using this pamphlet, readers will be able to participate in the simplicity and beauty of this time-honored tradition, even if they cannot participate in a Las Posadas in their local community.
If you participate in the Christmas Posadas tradition, please comment below and tell us how your family, church, or community celebrates the nine days leading up to the birth of Jesus.
This article has been updated and was originally published in December 2014. © The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.