I was lucky enough to be introduced by a mutual friend, to Luis, in Mexico City. Luis’s family was having their annual Posada and he invited me to come with.
So what is a Posada? It’s a celebration during the 9-days leading up to Christmas. The tradition originated in Spain but is now mainly celebrated in Mexico.
Posada means “lodging” in Spanish, and is more or less the celebration of Mary and Joseph finding a place to have their baby Jesus. Originally the celebration lasted nine days, signifying the 9 months of pregnancy (in this case referring to Mary’s baby bump), however most families that still follow the tradition, only celebrate it for one night.
So what does a Posada celebration look like? We arrived at Luis’s families’ house in the suburbs of Mexico City a little after 7pm. The family was gathered in the back yard of the house. Luis had a large family and there were probably about 25 or so aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and grandparents there.
Food wise there were lots of Sandwiches and snacks. One of the traditional drinks for this time of year is Ponche. How I would describe Ponche is a mix between hot apple cider and fruit punch. It is served warm/hot and has chunks of fruit in it as well as a slice of sugar cane to garnish. It tastes pretty awesome (or at least the one Luis’s mom made did). And sometimes people top it off with a shot of tequila or Mezcal for an added kick. Here is a Ponche recipe I found for any interested in making it.
Once the family had gathered, a candle was handed out to each guest at the party as well as a book of songs. Then everyone proceeded off the property and down the street lead by Luis’s nephews carrying Mary and Joseph figurines. As the procession walks down the street they sing a song, then they loop back to the gate of the house, sing another song and finally Mary and Joseph are granted lodging. Everyone enters the backyard and a prayer is said.
This is when the real fun begins. Piñatas!!! Posada Piñatas are traditionally a shiny star with 7 cones. The cones are filled up with candy, fruit and toys. One by one guests are blind folded and given a chance to hit the piñata with a stick. Lots of fun but there is also significance to this tradition:
- The seven cones represent the 7 sins
- Being blindfolded represents faith
- The stick represents virtue
- The candy, fruit and toys are the glory of God that falls upon you
The Posada I attended had three piñatas (probably due to the size of Luis’s family, so everyone got a turn). I got to hit the Minnie Mouse piñata. The glory of god didn’t fall on me but I got a couple good whacks in with the virtue stick and I’m sure I knocked away some of my sins.
One of Luis’s cousins mentioned to me that many people now, simply have a party rather than following the tradition. With that being said, we headed off around 11:30pm for a party at one of his other cousin’s houses for a less traditional and more modern day party Posada, which consisted of drinking tequila, eating hotdogs and other munchies and listening to music.
Posadas traditional or modern get a two thumbs up in my books.