Thursday, December 17, 2009
It has come to my attention that Mexicans celebrate Christmas very differently than we do. For many it is primarily a religious holiday, a celebration of the nativity, and it begins on the 16th of December, nine days before the 24th (called la Noche Buena, or Holy Night). We've been watching people clean their houses and set up big life-sized nativity scenes in their courtyards. I've discovered that there are nine days of special parties called Posadas, which began as an enactment of Mary and Joseph's search for lodging.
Each family in a neighborhood schedules a night for the Posada to be held at their home during the nine days.The hosts of the home are the innkeepers, and the neighborhood children and adults are the wanderers, who request lodging by singing a simple song. All carry small lit candles in their hands and four teenagers of about the same height are chosen to carry Los Peregrinos, which are two small statues of St. Joseph leading a donkey on which Mary rides. The Peregrinos ask for lodging in three different houses but only the third one will allow them in. That will be the house that is hosting the evening's posada. It begins with prayers and singing and then leads into a party for the children with a pinata, followed by some adult partying too.
Of course not all Mexican families follow this tradition but I think it is alive and well. We've been seeing families with huge pinatas in the back of their cars and trucks. And tonight we heard some singing out in the street and I know there is a lot of partying going on. We're also seeing people on the street selling huge sparklers and we're hearing fireworks go off from time to time. Apparently this will continue right through the 24th of December, the Noche Buena when the figure of the baby Jesus is added to the nativity scene. On this night people go to mass at midnight and then have a late night family dinner.
As for us, we've made reservations for a Christmas Day buffet dinner at the Olas Altas Steak House across from the beach in the old town.