Las Posadas are fiestas that begin on the 16th and end on the 24th of December. In Mexico, during this period, there are many Posadas every evening.
Invited -and as usual, some non invited- guests arrive at the house where the Posada will take place, always in the evening. A group goes outside the house, with lighted candles and papers with the words of the verses to ask for Posada. They sing En el nombre del Cielo os pido posada, pues no puede andar mi esposa amada./ In the name of Heaven I ask you for lodging,because She cannot walk,my beloved wife.
The group inside answers, also singing, Aquí no es mesón; sigan adelante.
Yo no puedo abrir, no sea algún tunante. / This is no inn, keep on going.
I wont open the door, in case you are a truant.
When they open the door to let those outside enter, they sing, Enter, Holy Pilgrims, accept this dwelling; not of this humble house, but of my heart.
During the rest of the party we break piñatas, there are villancicos -Christmas carols- in the air and we eat the traditional things: buñuelos (very thin fried pastries covered with sugar), colación (a mixture of different candies), tamales, and ponche, fruit punch.
The Náhuatl people used to represent plays enacting important historical events and stories taken from real life. Missionaries incorporated this custom to the
Christian holidays, so during the nine days of the Posadas many pastorelas were performed on stage.
After piñatas, dinner is served. Tamales with atole, and crunchy buñuelos for desserts. Hot ponche will help to warm the cold winter evening. For the children, ponche made from seasonal fruits, like tejocote, guava, plum, mandarin, orange, or prune, sweetened with piloncillo (a brown sugar), and perfumed with cinnamon sticks or vanilla. For the grown-ups, the same ponche, but with piquete (sting), which is a bit of rum or tequila added to the potion to make it happier. There are as many ponche recipes as there are grannies in Mexico.
When the Posada is about to end, every guest receives a small gift, or aguinaldo, usually a package containing , dried and fresh fruit, and colación (assorted and colourful candies).
These traditions are alive and well in Mexico, thank God, in spite of the noise and hurried pace of our so called modern life.
This is a time for joy. This is a time for children. Funny that events that occurred so many years ago bring us to think about the future. The only answer to this apparent paradox is, Hope. Hope in the future, hope in this world full of injustice, misery and pain. But a world that holds the promise of the Divine Child who wanted to come here to become one of us, to show us how precious human life is. To give us hope in ourselves.