Thursday, December 15, 2011

Las Posadas




I have been waiting to share this beautiful tradition with you.
I have thought what a wonderful thing it would be if we could experience this with a group of homeschool families or other like minded people.

I believe this would truly bring home the importance of the fact that Our Lord was born in a stable and in very humble circumstances and that we are called to be like Him.

During these nine days before Christmas, Mexicans and Mexican Americans have a wonderful custom called "Las Posadas," a nightly procession that brings to life Joseph and Mary's search for an inn. On each night, a house in the parish is chosen as the destination house, and the people of the parish gather to process to it. One young person is chosen to act as Mary (who sometimes rides a real donkey), and another to act as St. Joseph (sometimes a third is chosen to act as an angel, and others as shepherds); they are often all dressed in beautiful costumes.

Behind the "holy family," the people of the parish walk, carrying candles and blowing whistles, until they reach that night's chosen home. There, the group knocks and sings a song that begs repeatedly and pitifully for shelter. They are refused in song over and over again, until the "innkeepers" relent and finally open the door (or, in other places, they knock on the doors of houses whose "innkeepers" refuse them, and then process to another house and another, etc., until they reach the house chosen for the night's festivities). Once allowed entry each night, all go inside and pray (usually the Christmas Novena or the Rosary), and a party follows, with wonderful tamales, churros, and other Mexican foods, and a pinata filled with hard candy, tangerines, and peanuts.

On the last night (Christmas Eve), two children chosen to play Christ's godparents are added to the procession, which is more elaborate and colorful than the first nights. The godparents carry His likeness to the last destination, where a "nacimiento" (nativity scene) has been set up, and lay Him in the manger. Fireworks, food, piñatas, and Mass all follow.

(Note: Italians have a similar but much less elaborate, 1-day "posadas" custom -- called "Tupa Tupa" -- on St. Joseph's Day, 19 March).



HOME STYLE CELEBRATION~
Los Posados is one of the cherished traditions of Christmas in Mexico. It commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and their search for lodging. 


Here is how the celebration works: 


Children gather at homes. Each child is given a lit candle. The children form a lin and then begin walking down the street. The first two children in line carry small figures of the Holy Family (Mary and Joseph). 


As they approach each house they are turned away until they arrive at a replica of the stable in Bethlehem. Once the children arrive at the “stable,” they arrange the figures of the Holy Family. They do all this to coincide with midnight. 


Then they say prayers. After prayers there is a party. There is usually a piñata and fireworks. 


Traditionally, Christmas gifts are not exchanged on December 25th. Gift are exchanged on January 6th on a day called “Day of the Wise Men.” Instead of hanging up stockings, Mexican children put their shoes out for the wise men (not Santa Claus) to fill with toys. 


Mexican Version of the Night Before Christmas 


Here are some traditional Mexican Christmas recipes for you to try. 


Ponche Navideño: Punch


12 quarts water
10 oz tejocotes
6 oz walnuts
5 oranges juiced
8 guavas
4 sugar canes
10 oz prunes 3 sticks cinnamon
2 lb. Sugar




Wash fruit. Cut the sugar cane into strips. Cut guava. Boil everything together, except the sugar. When cooked add the sugar and brandy. 


Atole


4 servings


5 oz. tortilla- masa dough
2 tbsp. Cornstarch
3 cups milk
3 cups water
7 oz sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp vanilla extract


Dissolve the dough in the water. Strain the mixture, add the cinnamon sticks, and heat. When boiling add the milk, sugar, cornstarch. and vanilla. Let it boil, stirring constantly until it thickens. If too thick, add milk to achieve preferred consistency. Remove cinnamon stick and serve. 


Chocolate Caliente


6 servings
6 cups of milk
6 oz sweet chocolate
6 oz semi sweet chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla
dash of cinnamon


Heat the milk over medium flame. Break the chocolate into pieces. When the milk is hot, dissolve in it the chocolate pieces, moving constantly until everything is dissolved. Increase heat and let the mixture slowly boil. Add the vanilla and the cinnamon. Continue beating until frothy. Serve immediately and enjoy! 


Buñuelos de Navidad -Christmas Sweet Fritters 


10 servings


2 cups water
1 lb. Flour
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp anisette
9 oz. Lard
9 oz. piloncillo -raw sugar 


Boil one tablespoon anisette in a cup of water and leave to cool. Mix and sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in the eggs, the yolk and the anisette in water, as required, and knead until the dough stiffens. Form into small balls and roll out on a floured board until very thin. Continue flattening by hand on a napkin and place on a floured table. Heat the lard .Fry one by one in the lard. Heat the piloncillo in one cup of water with the remaining tablespoon of anisette. This mixture will thicken to a light syrup. remove from heat and strain. Serve the fritters, broken into pieces, in bowls and pour the syrup over them. 


Ensalada de Navidad - Christmas Salad 


2 small cooked beats, peeled and diced
1 large cooked carrot diced
1 orange, peeled and chopped
1 apple, peeled and diced
1/4 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and diced
1 large banana, diced
1/2 cup unsalted nuts, almonds or peanuts
seeds of 1/2 small pomegranate
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
3 tbsp salad oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
dash of salt


Mix all the fruits. Put lime or lemon juice, salad oil, sugar and salt into a screw top jar. Shake until blended and sugar has dissolved. Pour the dressing over the fruit salad and toss well. Pile the salad into a salad bowl and garnish with the nuts and pomegranate seeds. Let it stand in the refrigerator until chilled. Serve chilled. 

Blessings to you and your homes,

2 comments:

Sue Elvis said...

Gae,

Yesterday two picture books I'd ordered from the Book Depository arrived in the post. They are both by Tomie dePaola and are beautiful. "The Joy of Christmas" contains three stories including one called "Los Posadas"! I was thinking what a wonderful tradition this is and it's a pity it's not celebrated here. A group of homeschooled families? What a great idea. It's just a pity we live nowhere near you!

God bless.

Maria said...

Oh Gae, this truly has brought a great deal of memories...but this tradition is not only for Mexicans...but for all Latin Americans...we enjoy posadas through out Las Navidades :)

Maria

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