Saturday, December 23, 2023

"La Posada"

The Christmas tradition that is most characteristic of Mexico is the "Posada".  "Posada" is the Spanish word for lodging, and these neighborhood processions represent Joseph and Mary looking for room at the inn.  The participants go from house to house and sing a litany which begins... "En nombre del cielo os pido posada." (In the name of heaven I ask for lodging from you.)  At each house they are turned away.  At the last house, the home of the host of the "posada", the doors are opened, and the participants are welcomed in.  Refreshments are served, and piñatas are broken.  The "posadas" are held for nine nights prior to the Christmas.

There have already been a couple of "posadas" on Alejandro's street.  Thursday night, Alejandro and Silvia, a neighbor down the street, collaborated in organizing a "posada".  Around 8:00 some of the neighbors came out and blew whistles to let everyone that a "posada" was about to begin.  People came out onto the street, candles were distributed and lit, and a procession was formed.  They went up and down the street chanting a prayer to Mary.  The procession was led by two children carrying figures of Joseph and Mary.

In this case, rather than going from door to door, the entire litany was sung outside Silvia's house, and the responses sung from inside.

At the end, the door is opened, and everyone sings, "Entren santos peregrinos..." (Enter holy pilgrims...)


Alejandro handed out "aguinaldos" (goodie bags) to everyone.  Buying the candy and making up all the bags had been part of his responsibility.  Silvia and her son also passed out refreshments... "tortas" (Mexican sandwiches) and "ponche" (hot fruit punch, traditional at Christmas).

Then came the part the children had been waiting for... the piñatas.  Alejandro had purchased three piñatas and had filled them with treats.  Alejandro had bought traditional ones that have cones attached to the central, candy-filled core.  Originally, those cones represented the seven deadly sins (although these piñatas didn´t have seven).  Overcoming sin (breaking the piñata) would bring rewards (goodies showering down on you).

The piñatas were hung, one at a time, from a rope strung across the street.  Someone at one end pulled the rope to make the piñata go up and down.  While each child tried to break it, the others same the traditional song... "Dale, dale, dale, no pierdas el tino..." (Hit it, hit it, hit it, don't lose your focus...)  The papier mâché cores of the piñatas were very tough.  The cones and the decorations came off easily, but the center resisted smashing.

On the third piñata, the adults were given a chance to try their hand.  At first, they were blindfolded and twirled around.

When the blindfolded adults were not faring any better, they were allowed to try without a blindfold.

And yes, Alejandro and I were both given a chance.  I don't have any video of it, but, needless to say, we did not do any better than the others.  It was a fun evening in spite of the piñatas which defied breaking.

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