The Institute for Christian Formation
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Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
December 16, 2015

Today is December 16, the day of the beginning of the Las Posadas celebration. "Las Posadas" is Spanish for lodgings or inns.  Recall that in Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, the infant Jesus was laid in a manger because there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn. (Luke 2:7) In many Hispanic cultures, there is a tradition of a novena (nine day prayer) preparing for Christmas.  This includes the celebration of Las Posadas. Las Posadas begins on December 16 and concludes on Christmas Eve, December 24.

Las Posadas may involve an entire neighborhood or village.  It is a reenactment of Mary and Joseph searching for lodging in Bethlehem, as they awaited the imminent birth of Jesus.  Each evening of Las Posadas, those participating process from home to home asking for lodging and hospitality.  The participants may be led by two people dressed as Mary and Joseph.  Perhaps Mary might even be riding on a donkey!  Sometimes two children play the roles of Mary and Joseph, or the participants might carry statues of Mary and Joseph in their procession.  The pilgrims are rudely turned away, until finally they find hospitality and are welcomed in!  There are traditional songs for the Las Posadas celebration, and luminaria light the way.  The home offering hospitality generally has a manger set up.  The pilgrims have a small statue of the Christ Child which they place in the manger.  Las Posadas ends with the breaking of a piñata, and is usually followed by participants going to church to celebrate Midnight Mass.
Why not have a Las Posadas celebration in your neighborhood this Advent?  It’s an excellent reminder that we are all pilgrims on a journey, and that we all seek hospitality and are called to offer hospitality to others. In welcoming others, especially those in need, we welcome Christ! 

To prepare for your celebration, read "The Night of Las Posadas," by Tomie dePaola (ISBN 0-399-23400-4).  You could also make a piñata for your celebration.  You can find directions on how to make one at home here.  You can also purchase one at your local party supply store. (In the videos                         
above you can learn about the theological significance of the piñata.)  Enjoy sipping some traditional Mexican hot chocolate as you prepare and celebrate!