city at night

city at night

Friday, December 20, 2019

Memories from My Teaching Days

Yesterday's post about "Las Posadas" brought back some memories from my teaching days.  

Every year before Christmas I would set up a nativity scene in my classroom.  I would explain to my classes that I was not teaching them religion, but rather the culture of the Hispanic world and their holiday celebrations.   

Before the concept of the Christmas tree became popular, a large nativity scene was the focal point of the decorations in Hispanic homes.  At this time of year in the marketplaces you will find a wide variety of clay figures for the creche... not just Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, the shepherds and the Wise Men, but all sorts of people coming to the stable.  Many families have enormous, elaborate nativity scenes which have landscaping of hills and rivers, the town of Bethlehem and all the villagers and animals.   In Mexico the figures are sometimes uniquely Mexican in nature.  There are such figures as tortilla vendors and turkeys... things that you would not have seen in ancient Israel.

My classroom nativity scene was nothing so grandiose.  I had cheap plastic figures purchased at Woolworths.  But it was still pretty cool.

The day before Christmas vacation, we would do a "Posada"... the recreation of Mary and Joseph searching for room at the inn.  We would go through the hallways and visit several other classrooms asking for lodging.  At those rooms I would have one of my students planted to turn us away.  Then we would return to my room, and we would be welcomed in.  One of the students would have made or bought a piñata which we would then break.

I found some old photographs of our Christmas celebrations...

These pictures of my students ready to begin their procession are from 1975, my second year of teaching when I was at the junior high.
Imagine... these ninth graders (I still remember some of their names) would now be in their fifties!

I don't know the year, but this photo is from later in my teaching career when I was teaching at the high school.  Here, at the end of the "Posada", the procession is being welcomed into my classroom.

One of my Spanish III classes in 1989 posing for a Christmas portrait.  The bulletin board in the background is decorated with Spanish-language Christmas cards that I had collected over the years.

Those were the "good old days" when teaching was fun!


  1. Nice! I don't remember ever participating in one of your posadas, but I do recognize several folks in that last photo. (I was a freshman that year, but knew some of those folks from sports or band). I can't believe that was 30 years ago!

    1. I really can't remember when I stopped doing the "Posada" with my classes or why. Maybe I got scared that someone would get hit with a stick during the breaking of the piñata.

    2. That was probably a valid concern. During Cinco de Mayo festivities at work one year, a coworker smashed a hole into the drywall with a wiffle ball bat while attempting to break a pinata. The party ended quickly after that.