Las posadas begin today in México. Every night for these nine nights before La Navidad, many people celebrate this tradition in their neighborhoods or cities. Las posadas literally translates in English as "the inns" or "the lodgings" and symbolizes the Biblical journey of Mary and Joseph as they searched for shelter in Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus.
celebration lasts from December 16 to Christmas Eve (Noche
Buena) or "Holy Night") and includes a candle-lit
procession of children and parents reenacting Mary and Joseph's
journey through Bethlehem. As with all holiday traditions, there are numerous variations. Not every Hispanic country celebrates Las posadas.
ritual includes a lively and colorful pageant of neighbors and friends (the
"pilgrims" or peregrinos)
- costumed as Joseph, Mary, angels, shepherds and the Three
Wise Men - who travel from house to house until they reach
a designated home where Las Posadas will be celebrated that
year. Each night they may be admitted to a different house, where celebrations take place on a minor scale. Upon arrival at a home,
the hosts or "innkeepers" meet the procession at
the door to begin the holiday fiesta with an exchange of lyrics
from the traditional Pidiendo
Posada. The song includes lyrics asking for lodging, and the pilgrims continue to be refused entrance until they are recognized as the Holy Family. On the last night, 24 December, the designated hosts throw the biggest party.
Parties often include food, drink, prayers, music, fireworks and piñatas. Hot chocolate, tamales, buñuelos, arroz con leche, orange and beet salad are among the traditional foods offered.
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