Posadas are an important part of Mexican Christmas celebrations. The word posada means "inn" or "shelter" in Spanish, and this tradition re-enacts Mary and Joseph's search for a place to stay in Bethlehem. Posadas are held in Mexico on each of the nine nights leading up to Christmas, from December 16 to 24th.
Posadas are held in neighborhoods across Mexico and are also becoming popular in the United States.
The celebration begins with a procession in which the participants hold candles and sing Christmas carols. Sometimes there will be individuals who play the parts of Mary and Joseph who lead the way, or occasionally images representing them are carried. The procession will make its way to a particular home (a different one each night), where a special song (La Cancion Para Pedir Posada) is sung.
Asking For Shelter
There are two parts to the traditional posada song. Those outside the house sing the part of Joseph asking for shelter and the family inside responds singing the part of the innkeeper saying that there is no room. The song switches back and forth a few times until finally the innkeeper decides to let them in. The hosts open the door and everyone goes inside.
Read the lyrics and translation of the posada song.
Once inside the house there is a celebration which can vary from a very big fancy party to a small get-together among friends. Often the festivities begin with a short Bible reading and prayer.
Then the hosts give the guests food, usually tamales and a hot drink such as ponche or atole. Then the guests break piñatas and the children are given candy.
The nine nights of posadas leading up to Christmas are said to represent the nine months that Jesus spent in Mary's womb, or alternatively, to represent nine days journey to Bethlehem.
Read more about Mexican Christmas Traditions and learn about some of the traditional Mexican Christmas foods. .