The piece I wrote for Sandra Sookoo’s blog the other day prompted some readers to share some of their holiday traditions. My friend, Helen Burlingham, has graciously given me permission to post some of her memories of holiday traditions in Mexico. Enjoy….
One of the Christmas customs in Mexico, which I think originated in Spain and has become modernized, is the Posada. The word “posada” means house or dwelling and the ritual refers to Mary and Josephs request for a dwelling where Mary could give birth to Jesus.
Posadas begin on December 16 and continue right up to Christmas eve. There is a traditional scripted ritual that is followed. There are two teams. One reciting lines that represent the various innkeepers or homes and the other portraying Mary and Joseph.
Within a home, or on the patio of a home, the innkeepers line up and the Mary/Joseph team go from one to the other and ask for shelter. They are refused until the end, when the innkeeper says they can stay in his stable.
After the final shelter is given and the child is born, there is happiness and celebration, usually with a pinata (even for adults) And, food, drink, music and dancing.
In modern times, many Posadas are merely company Christmas parties without the traditional rituals, but in the small towns they are still done with the litanies. I believe people in Mexico still wait until December 16 for the first one to take place.
One year when I taught at Pan-Am University in the Rio Grande Valley, we had a faculty Posada at the home of a Mexican-American Teaching Assistant. The ritual was in Spanish.What I remember most were the pina coladas afterward that got an older faculty wife a little tipsy. She did not know the drink contained alcohol and was just enjoying the sweet taste. Nobody pushed a second drink on her but the snickers were many.