Nations and cultures all across the globe celebrate Christmas in a variety of ways unique to their own culture. One tradition specific to Mexico and Latin America is know as Las Posadas, or “the inns.”
For Deacon Juan Jimenez, this is his favorite tradition and reminds him of his hometown of Nonoalco, Hidalgo, Mexico, a small town about 150 miles north of Mexico City.
During a traditional Las Posadas, children dressed as Mary and Joseph lead a procession through the town stopping at houses designated “inns.”
The event begins on December 16 and runs through Christmas Eve and symbolizes the nine months Mary carried Jesus, and alternately the nine days journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
When they arrive at each “inn,” those outside sing a call and response song with those inside. At the last house, Mary and Joseph are recognized and everyone is invited inside to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
“We celebrate it with a rosary, some songs, pinatas and little candies,” Jimenez said.
At St. Mary’s, they have done a scaled back version of the event for about four years. Every night, 25 to 30 people gather at the church, but instead of going house to house, they go to different rooms and buildings on the church campus.
At the church, once Mary and Joseph are invited inside, everyone celebrates with a couple of short songs then enjoy sandwiches and burgers.
This is a bit different than the food Jimenez ate as a child in Mexico. He said the food at a traditional Las Posadas varies a bit from region to region and house to house, but he said spicier foods such as tamales were most popular in Nonoalco.
“We would eat something that’s warm because the weather is really cold,” Jimenez said. “My town is on top of a mountain, so it gets very cold.”
In Mexico, they also serve a traditional beverage called ponche, a warm, spiced Christmas punch made with cane sugar and Mexican fruits.