USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘posadas’
Customs
Holidays
Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Posada

Context:

The informant is a 31-year-old Mexican American woman who will be called SA. SA knows of this folklore piece because she participates in it every year with her family. The Main Piece of folklore is told through her own words.

Main Piece:

On Christmas Eve, my family will get together and split into two groups for Posada. Each person in the group has a candle in hand with a protector from falling wax. One group will stand outside the front door of the house, and the other group stands inside the house right behind the front door. The group outside begins to sing the first verse of the song, followed by the group inside that sings the following verse. This pattern continues throughout the entire song, until the end when everyone celebrates that Joseph and Mary have found shelter, and the group outside comes into the house.

Background:

The informant knows of this folklore because she takes part in it every year on Christmas Eve. This was something passed down from elder to elder in the family. It is a part of her religious beliefs as a Catholic. It is a very important part of their culture and their family as it is a tradition that brings the family together.

Notes:

Posada is a Christmas Mexican tradition that revolves around the Catholic religion in which a reenactment is held with family and friends. The reenactment is of the pilgrimage to Bethlehem by Joseph and Mary in search of shelter on Christmas Eve. The reenactment may be different depending on the family and their own traditions. The song that is sung, is often sung in Spanish. The Lyrics are as follows:

En el nombre del cielo, os pido posada, pues no puede andar, mi esposa amada.

Aquí no es meson, sigan adelante, yo no puedo abrir, no sea algún tunante.

No seas inhumano, tenos caridad, que el Dios de los cielos, te lo premiará.

Ya se pueden ir, y no molestar, porque si me enfado, los voy a apalear.

Venimos rendidos, desde Nazaret, yo soy carpintero, de nombre José.

No me importa el nombre, déjenme dormir, pues ya les digo, que no hemos de abrir.

Posada te pide, amado casero, por sólo una noche, la Reina del Cielo.

Pues si es una Reina, quien lo solicita, ¿Cómo es que de noche, anda tan solita?

Mi esposa es María. es Reina del Cielo, y madre va a ser, del Divino Verbo.

¿Eres tu José? ¿Tu esposa es María? Entren, peregrinos, no los conocía.

Dios pague señores, vuestra caridad, y que os colme el cielo, de felicidad.

Dichosa la casa, que abriga este día, a la Virgen Pura, la hermosa María.

Everyone enters:

Entren santos peregrinos, peregrinos, reciban este rincón, no de esta pobre morada, sino de mi corazón.

Esta noche es de alegría, de gusto y de regocijo, porque hospedaremos aquí, a la Madre de Dios Hijo.

 

English Translation:

Pray give us lodging, dear sir, in the name of heaven. All day since morning to travel we’ve given. Mary, my wife, is expecting a child. She must have shelter tonight. Let us in, let us in!

You cannot stop here, I won’t make my house an inn. I do not trust you, your story is thin. You two might rob me and then run away. Find somewhere else you can stay. Go away, go away!

Please show us pity, your heart cannot be so hard. Look at poor Mary, so worn and so tired. We are most poor, but I’ll pay what I can. God will reward you, good man. Let us in, let us in!

You try my patience. I’m tired and must get some rest. I’ve told you nicely, but still you insist. If you don’t go and stop bothering me, I’ll fix you, I guarantee. Go away, go away!

Sir, I must tell you my wife is the queen of heaven, chosen by God to deliver his Son. Jesus is coming to earth on this eve. (Oh heaven, make him believe!) Let us in, let us in!

Joseph, dear Joseph, oh how could I be so blind? Not to know you and the virgin so fine! Enter, blest pilgrims, my house is your own. Praise be to God on his throne! Please come in, please come in!

Everyone enters:

Enter, enter, holy pilgrims, holy pilgrims. Welcome to my humble home. Though ‘tis little I can offer, all I have please call your own.

 

Customs
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Posadas

I interviewed my informant, Brianna, in the study lounge of the band office. Because of her upbringing in Mexican culture, she was able and eager to share a lot of folklore and folk traditions. One thing she wanted me to document was Posadas, which she learned about from her grandmother and her mother. The following is the information she shared with me during the interview:

 

Posadas are special events leading up to Christmas. It’s a movement of the community or church that happened once a week a few weeks leading up Christmas day. The community members follow someone dressed as Mary and Joseph to someone’s home. The home welcomes them in, and they have a big party.

 

My informant made sure to note that in her mother’s village, they put the woman portraying Mary on a live donkey for added effect.

 

She used to do it in her neighborhood back home (San Siro, San Luis Potosi). Everyone was invited for food and a party. A portion of the people were invited early for food, usually close friends and family. Then the whole town is invited after the dinner for the party and music.

 

This all leads up to Christmas day. On Christmas, everyone celebrates at home — which is where everyone celebrates the birth of Jesus. A certain ritual also involves putting a doll figure of baby Jesus in a manger. My informant noted that her grandmothers was 10X bigger than the other dolls because it’s the most important thing in the display.

 

I asked my informant if she had any other thoughts, to which she responded: “The first time I did it, I was in Mexico, so it was pretty wild.”

 

Analysis

I have never heard of such extravagant pageantry to celebrate the Christmas season. This festival in particular is very important because it brings the community together and affirms their identity. It’s unclear whether everyone partakes in the celebration because they are Christian, or just because they are part of the community. Regardless, Posadas is obviously a very important annual event that encourages synthesis through performance.

 

Customs
Holidays
Myths
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Posadas

“From the 15th of December to Christmas Eve, we have posadas. We re-enact the journey of Joseph and Mary to find a place to stay.”

 

The source says that his local church would hold the posadas every year. The re-enactments would take place twice a day, one performance in the morning and one in the evening. It sounds similar to the Stations of the Cross and the re-enactment of the Nativity scene. It’s all about getting into the “true spirit of Christmas,” which for the source and other church-goers was always about accepting Jesus into one’s life and being more like Jesus. It’s strange, though, because the posadas don’t feature Jesus. So maybe this tradition is more about family in general and how everyone journeys to one home on Christmas Eve to come together and celebrate the birth of Jesus.

The fact that it ends on Christmas Eve is also significant. While the most obvious reason is because Joseph and Mary “found lodging” by December 24th, the less clear reason is because of the value Latin Americans place in Christmas Eve. For other cultures, Christmas Day is the most important day. That’s when everyone gathers with their family for food and games and whatnot. But Latin Americans host what’s called Noche Buena or “The Good Night” which takes place on Christmas Eve. What most other cultures do on Christmas Day, Latin Americans do on Christmas Eve. Why? Who knows! I asked the source what he thought about this, and he said it’s because Christmas Day is for you to spend only with your immediate family rather than every cousin and great aunt and uncle.

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