The Posadas: Christmas Tradition of Mexico, By Marilynn Hughes
The Posadas: Christmas Tradition of Mexico - "Las Posadas is a nine-day celebration with origins in Spain, nowaday celebrated chiefly in Mexico and Guatemala, beginning December 16th and ending December 24th, on evenings (about 8 or 10 PM).
Posada is Spanish for "lodging", or "accommodation"; it is said in plural because it is celebrated more than one day in that period
Typically, each family in a neighborhood will schedule a night for the Posada to be held at their home, starting on the 16th of December and finishing on the 24th. Every home has a nativity scene and the hosts of the Posada act as the innkeepers. The neighborhood children and adults are the pilgrims (peregrinos), who have to request lodging by going house to house singing a traditional song about the pilgrims. All the pilgrims carry small lit candles in their hands, and four people carry small statues of Joseph leading a donkey, on which Mary is riding. The head of the procession will have a candle inside a paper lamp shade. At each house, the resident responds by refusing lodging (also in song), until the weary travelers reach the designated site for the party, where Mary and Joseph are finally recognized and allowed to enter. Once the "innkeepers" let them in, the group of guests come into the home and kneel around the Nativity scene to pray (typically, the Rosary). Latin American countries have continued to celebrate this holiday to this day, with very few changes to the tradition. In some places, the final location may be a church instead of a home. Individuals may actually play the various parts of Mary (María) and Joseph with the expectant mother riding a real donkey (burro), with attendants such as angels and shepherds acquired along the way, or the pilgrims may carry images of the holy personages instead. At the end of the long journey, there will be Christmas carols (villancicos), children will break open piñatas by striking these colorful papier-maché objects with bats while blindfolded to obtain candy hidden inside, and there will be a feast. Traditionally, it is expected to meet all the invitees in a previous procession. They also play pinata. Pinatas are made out of clay." From Wikipedia