Las Posadas

In Spain (and several other Hispanic countries) they have these really elaborate processions through the streets at all hours of the day for the entirety of Holy Week. They were one of my favorite parts of studying abroad there, and I was reminded of them last week as we celebrated the tradition of "las posadas" in El Paso/Juarez. The word "posada" is an antiquated term for "inn," but today it refers to a ceremonial procession reenacting Mary and Joseph's search for lodging in Bethlehem. The tradition originated in Spain but today is honored mainly by Catholics, but by others as well, throughout Latin America. There are several kids dressed as Mary, Joseph, angels, etc. that lead the way (ours even carried a star on a pole!), and then everyone else follows. At each stop along the way, a chant is repeated; a small group of people sings the part of the innkeeper telling Mary and Joseph that there isn't room for them, and everyone else sings the part of Mary and Joseph urgently begging for a place to stay. While walking from place to place, sometimes you sing other random Christmas carols; we did, courtesy of a small contingent from Mariachi San Pablo. At the last stop, the end of the chant is different, as the "innkeepers" finally agree to let Mary and Joseph in. This is symbolized by everyone going inside for a brief message, more singing, and lots of food! The traditional fare is tamales (corn dough stuffed with either a sweet or savory filling and baked in a corn husk), bunuelos (fried pillows of dough seasoned with cinnamon and sugar), and champurrada (a sweet beverage thickened with cornmeal).

YLM did a posada for each of our Mexico mission sites as well as one at San Pablo--a total of 7. My attitute towards them was the same as my attitude towards Holy Week processions in Spain: they are all kind of the same so most people probably got tired of them, but I couldn't get enough so I went to them ALL! Go figure, I was charging my camera beforehand and I forgot to get the battery off the charger so I could take it to my first ever posada at Cristo Rey, but here's some pictures of the other 6. You can look at Chris's blog for pictures of Cristo Rey ;)

We got some good use out of the porch that a servant event from Barrington, IL, built in mid-October during the first ever posada at San Pedro y San Pablo.

Stephen usually began each one with a few instructions about how it was going to be organized.

And then we were off!

I think his bib said "Santa's Little Helper" or something like that.

Following the star of Bethlehem...

The kids at ALL the mission sites love to sing "El Pato" so here Stephen made it into a competition with Miguel as the judge. I think the guys won.

"Que se llama Jesus!" ("...whose name is Jesus!")--the last line of "El Sapo."

The beginning of the San Pablo posada.

It took place in the U.S. so it could be at night and everyone carried candles.

This house is right around the corner from the mission...I guess we figured they had enough Christmas spirit that they wouldn't mind us singing in their front yard!

San Pablo's ended at the kitchen since that's where all the yummy food was waiting for us!

The crowd at Sin Paredes...we counted 150 people outside at one point plus a bunch more inside.

Anyone else think it's ironic that we sang "Go Tell it on the Mountain" while trudging back up the hill???

Hi friends.

"A ver! A ver!" (I wanna see! I wanna see!)

The post-posada message/singing at Sin Paredes.

There were 2 pinatas: one for the older kids and one for the littler kids.

The one for the littler kids was made by Rigo and his family--I helped build a house for them several years ago when I came on a servant event, and then we built one for Rigo's sister Mariela, who now has a family of her own, earlier this summer. Funny how it wasn't quite as mutilated as the older kids' one when it was time to go inside and eat!

All the kids in costume at San Lucas.

Javier, the pastor of San Lucas.

The kids singing for us at San Lucas.

Everyone wanted to get their picture with these celebs...even their roadie for the day.

The posada at Mision San Francisco.

Krysia joined the mariachi band a few times because the kids there practically have the Mariachi San Pablo CD's memorized and they wanted to hear "Tu Nombre Levantare" with the "original voice."

The biggest group of musicians yet at Santisima (the same crowd was at San Francisco since those 2 were the same day, but not so neatly lined up for a picture)!

"En el nombre del cielo/os pido posada/pues no puede andar/ya mi esposa amada!" ("In the name of heaven I ask you for a place to stay since my beloved wife can barely walk anymore!")--the 1st verse of the posada chant we sang at each loses something in the translation I think.

The kids at Santisima singing for us too...there is always an unofficial singing competition between all the mission sites, and Santisima won this year! I'm told they win every year...

Lizbeth and Karlita (whom we built the 2nd story house for) and friends.

I hope you all have a blessed Christmas Eve, I actually need to go get ready since we're leaving in a little bit to go celebrate with my mom's side of the family! And it's pouring outside...pray that it doesn't all freeze like it's supposed to! Until next time, blessings!