I’ll be the first to admit I have no business writing this post. I have only attended two Posadas in my life. A Posada is traditionally done in Catholic and Hispanic communities and I am significantly involved in neither. So if you already know anything about this tradition I encourage you to seek out a wiser source. But for those of you that have never heard of this beautiful tradition I hope I can offer a decent introduction and motivate you to learn more and to consider participating in one next year.
La Posada means “the inn”. La Posada or Las Posadas (the inns) is an activity typically done in the week or so before Christmas. Churches do them but so do neighborhoods or family groups. The one we attended this year was at La Posada Providencia an immigrant shelter, so yes it was a Posada at an actual Posada. La Posada is a sort of theatrical procession where a group follows Mary and Joseph as they go door to door in Bethlehem looking for a place to stay. They are met by several rejections before finally being welcomed into the last house. Mary and Joseph take the seat of honor and everyone has a party. There is an official song which everyone has a copy of that is sung back and forth between those in the procession and those waiting inside of each building.
Depending on how far you are walking you may sing a few traditional Christmas carols intermixed with the traditional song. We ended ours with a party and a special time of prayer for immigrants and refugees around the world who are living out the quest for Posada everyday. It was especially moving to go through this production with our group of immigrants several who are well known to us by now and with a Mary and Joseph who have come from opposite corners of Africa seeking the hospitality of strangers in the US. There was the shedding of tears of grief and of joy especially by those from central America for whom the tradition of La Posada was a familiar homecoming.
La Posada is a beautiful way to focus the celebrations of Christmas on the incarnation of Christ, to learn hospitality and to become mindful of those in our midst who are seeking shelter. I highly recommend you make this part of your Christmas traditions. For a simple kid’s book about La Posada check out Tomie de Paula’s The Night of Las Posadas.
If you are looking for a Posada to participate in consider checking in with a Catholic Church that has a Spanish service or congregation.