December 16, 2008

Las Posadas

Today, December 16, begins Mexico's Las Posadas, which means "the inns". It's nine evenings of peregrinos (pilgrims) wandering. Statues of Mary and Joseph are carried from house to house, seeking shelter, where they are told there is "no room". There's usually a planned destination each night for Mary and Joseph to stay overnight and people party. Then to be done again the next night.

Lots of pinatas to be broken with their goodies inside. Lots of tamales, churros (cinnamon fritters), hot chocolate and margaritas (or spiked "ponche"). Carols are sung as people carry candles. And it's usually a neighborhood thing.

Growing up in Tucson, tamales could be bought everywhere this time of year, the freshly made being sold in store parking lots. I've made paper mache pinatas. And I've made tamales. I LOVE tamales!

On Noche Buena (the beautiful night, Holy Night, of Christmas Eve) the festivities culminate with Mary and Joseph brought to rest with baby Jesus in the manger. The Nativity scene is the focal point for Mexican homes. Christmas trees are a newer decor that some people might have. Santa does not figure in the Navidad festivities.

The Flor de Noche Buena, the Poinsettia, has it's story. In Tucson we could plant poinsettias in a south facing planter and it would grow year round, it's leaf bracts changing color. The story is of a poor girl wanting to bring a gift to the Christ child and she picks weeds that turn red when she presents her gift from her heart.
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