Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday. Families get together, cities are illuminated with bright lights and decorations and jingles are heard everywhere you go.
It is, however, a holiday that is celebrated differently around the world. Each country and region has its own traditions and customs that have been passed through generations.
I’ve celebrated the holidays in Mexico for many years, and I love it! A major Christmas tradition in Mexico is the posadas.
The word "posada" means "shelter" or "inn" in Spanish. Posadas re-enact the story of Joseph and Mary in search of shelter in Bethlehem when expecting Jesus. They are celebrated during nine consecutive nights starting from December 16 to the 24, which are meant to represent the nine months Jesus was in Mary's womb.
Posadas are held at a different house each evening starting with a procession. The participants, who are the guests, hold candles and sing a traditional song towards the host's home. On occasion, people may dress as Joseph and Mary as well.
The traditional song is sung alternatively as in conversation. The participants of the procession pretend to be Joseph and Mary and sing their verses asking for refuge while the hosts act as the innkeepers and sing the corresponding verses.
Once reaching the end of the song, before the last verse, the hosts open the door and lets the guests enter. To conclude, they all sing together the final verse to celebrate.
Guests are greeted with buñuelos, cinnamon chocolate champurrado (or hot chocolate), tamales, pozole and other delicious Mexican traditional dishes. The party officially begins!
It is such a fun tradition! Employers, organizations and schools also organize posadas. They may celebrate it differently such as hosting the party at a larger venue, arrange raffles with prizes and do gift exchanges.
Groups of friends host their own posadas and throw parties or reunions as well.
You may have also heard or seen the famous piñatas before. They are typically present at posadas and play a huge role during the holidays.
A piñata is often made out of paper maché or a clay pot decorated with colorful paper. It is filled with candies and fruits. Children and adults line up from smallest to tallest to break the piñata with a stick.
It also portrays the seven deadly sins. The stick that is used to break the piñata symbolizes love and destroys the evil when breaking it.
If you go to a posada in Mexico you'll be welcomed by kind people and delighted with the delicious traditional food. There's a great chance a piñata will be present at the party, and it is a lot of fun trying to break it.
When this happens, don't forget to pick up the candies! Happy holidays!