Friends, family, delicious food, music, and a piñata? Yes, please! Las posadas has all of these and is celebrated in Mexico at Christmas. I think the tradition is fascinating and love how it is celebrated not only in Mexico but other Hispanic countries and in Hispanic communities here in the United States.
You might be wondering, what is las posadas? Read on to find out what it is, the origins of it, and ways you can celebrate it too!
Las Posadas in Mexico at Christmas
What is las posadas?
About 90% of the population in Mexico and other Central American countries are Christian (Catholic and Protestant mostly) and celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. The word posada means inn or lodging and las posadas originally started when the Spaniards were introducing Catholicism to the native people in Central and South America. Las posadas represent Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem.
If you’re not sure who Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are, I have a free Spanish/English coloring book with their story. It’s a must to truly understand what las posadas are about. You can download it here:
Las posadas starts on December 16th and lasts for nine days until December 24th (Christmas Eve or Nochebuena). I read that each day represents a month of Mary’s pregnancy. Each evening, a group of people with “Mary” and “Joseph” walk through the town or neighborhood singing and asking for shelter. At the last house, there is a celebration with lots of food and a piñata. 🤗
There can be statues of Joseph and Mary or two people are chosen to be Mary and Joseph (typically children), and they go from house to house with a group of people singing and asking for shelter. The people in the first few houses sing back saying there isn’t room. In the last house, the people sing back saying there is room and that is where the evening’s celebration is.
Eddie G has a video describing his experiences in Los Angeles. I love it! I show it to my students every year. It’s a great way to see a community come together. There are other communities in the US that also celebrate las posadas such as Detroit and Texas. El Centro de la Raza in Seattle normally has a celebration also, and I’ve been dying to go. Hopefully, next year!
Where Is Las Posadas Celebrated?
When I first heard about las posadas it was from a Mexican legend about the poinsettia. Besides Mexico and Hispanic communities in the US, it is also celebrated in the Philippines and other Spanish-speaking countries like Guatemala. They celebrate it slightly differently in each country, but the roots of Mary and Joseph looking for shelter are the same.
In the Philippines, it’s called Panunuluyan which means “looking for lodging.” This is celebrated on one night, Christmas Eve. A choir with images of Joseph and Mary leave the church and go to several houses singing and asking for shelter. They are rejected and return to the church. At midnight they celebrate the birth of Jesus.
In Guatemala, las posadas is celebrated for nine days like in Mexico, but the procession leads from the church straight to the house of the family hosting the celebration for the night.
How to Celebrate Las Posadas
Someday, I would love to celebrate las posadas with people from my church! I think it would be so much fun and a great way to bring the Christmas story to life for both adults and kids.
This article has the songs with Spanish and English translations that people sing when asking for shelter. It includes the responses of the people in the houses who say they don’t have shelter and the final house where Mary and Joseph can find shelter.
In the last house is the party with delicious food! 😋 Silvia from mamalatinatips.com talks about her family’s experiences with las posadas, and she has lots of links to tasty food typically served such as tamales, ponche (a hot, spiced punch), and pozole. She also has more detailed instructions about how to host las posadas. Isabel at isabeleats.com has more delicious recipes such as champurrado (Mexican hot chocolate) and buñuelos.
A kid’s favorite at the party is the piñata! I love this video’s explanation of what the parts of the piñata mean. It has instructions on how to make a piñata, but for a beginner and non-crafter (like me) I think they would be difficult to follow. The piñata instructions in this blog post are more in-depth.
Music is also a must! Becky at kidworldcitizen.com has a list of Christmas carols including traditional songs such as Los peces en el río and Campana sobre campana. She has Feliz Navidad on her list of traditional songs; I don’t know about that one being traditional. 🤔😂 I do know, even if you hate the original of that song (like me), listen to Michael Bublé’s version with Thalia. Their version might change your mind!
Beyond celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, I love that las posadas brings together family and friends and builds community. Even if there isn’t a las posadas celebration in your community, I hope you’re able to watch Eddie G’s video to learn more about it and make some of the delicious food to get a taste of Mexican culture!
Did you do these activities or know anyone who wants to learn about las posadas in Mexico at Christmas? Please share with the buttons on the left!
What is your favorite holiday tradition? Tell me about it in the comments below!
P.S. Are you looking for a quick and fun way to help your kids start learning Spanish? If so, check out my free Spanish for Kids Starter Guide! You can immediately use any of the 9 simple tips to introduce your kids to Spanish. Know what the best part is? You don’t have to know Spanish to use it!
Very cool write-up!
I asked a Mexican co-worker about the holiday and he got all excited and went on quite a bit about it and they’re keeping the tradition alive here in the states in their community. They were in the middle of the process and that night everyone was coming to his house for the celebration and the final stop in a few days was going to be at his sister’s house. He said mole was the big dish at his house that night, but at his sisters they would have everything imaginable including tamales.
I’m going to ask him if I can come next year.
¡Gracias! I love mole! I hope you get to go next year. Being able to participate in las posadas is on my bucket list. 🙂