Las Posadas is one of my favorite Mexican Christmas Traditions. The way Mexican families celebrate the holidays is like no other. They seem to truly understand the real meaning of Christmas.
The celebrations begin on December 16th and end on December 24th when it is Christmas Eve. The families first decorate their houses and sidewalks with farolitos. A farolito is a paper bag that has intricate designs cut into it, very similar to papel picado. The paper bags are then illuminated with candles inside of them. This lights up the community with the spirit of Christmas.
Every night during this Christmas tradition the community comes together to form a procession. The procession is lead by two children carrying a replica of Joseph and Mary.
The rest of the community carries candles and everybody sings Litany of the Virgin.
The procession approaches three houses pleading for shelter. This is reenacting Joseph's and Mary's nine day journey to Bethlehem.
The first two houses refuse them entry thinking they may be troublemakers. The third house allows them entry.
At the third house, the children leading the procession say a prayer of thanks and leave the figurines of Mary and Joseph in the families nativity set. Then everybody sings and eats tamales at the chosen house.
This is held at a different house each night of the celebration.
The children's favorite part is the pinata party.
All of the kids get to take turns hitting the pinata all eight nights. Once the pinata has been broken open, the kids scatter collecting candy and small gifts.
The refreshments and dancing come next.
These eight nights of Las Posadas lead up to Buena Noche also known as Christmas Eve. On this night, the children lead the procession to their church. They then place the figurine of Jesus Christ in the churches nativity scene.
Everybody attends midnight mass.
When mass is over, the church bells will ring and fireworks light up the sky. The Mexican families go home to set up their own nativity scene.
Christmas day is not celebrated with gifts.