Las Posadas, which literally means the inns, has know come to be known as the Christmas parties. These parties are celebrated nine days before Christmas. One party is thrown every day at different houses. These houses represent the inns Mary and Joseph went to when looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem. The celebration begins with a replication of Mary and Josephs journey. A song is sung by the people present. Half of the people stay inside, they represent the inn keepers, and the other half which stays outside of the house represent the pregnant Mary and Joseph. Usually, a man and a woman are asked to be Mary and Joseph. They get to dress up as them. The outside crowd knocks at the door and sings the following:
Los de afuera: En el nombre del cielo, os pido posada pues no puede andar mi esposa amada.
People outside: In the name of heaven, we ask to lodge since my beloved wife can no longer continue.
Los de adentro: Aqui no es meson sigan adelante yo no puedo abrir no sea algun tunante.
People inside: This is not an inn continue on I cannot open you could be some kind of mischief.
Afuera: No seas inhumano dejanos entrar que el Dios del cielo os lo premiara.
Outside: Do not be inhumane let us in. God will reward you.
Adentro: Ya se pueden ir y no molestar porque si me enfado los voy a apalear.
Inside: You can leave and no longer bother us because if I become annoyed I will beat you both.
Afuera: Venimos rendidos desde Nazaret yo soy carpintero de nombre Jose.
Outside: We come exhausted from Nazareth. I am a carpenter by the name of Joseph.
Adentro: No me importa el nombre dejenme dormir porque ya les digo que no he de abrir.
Inside: I do not care about the name. Let me sleep because I have already told you that I will not open.
Afuera: Posada te pide amado casero solo por la noche la Reina del cielo.
Outside: The Queen of heaven asks you beloved landlord to stay only for the night.
Adentro: Pues si es la reina quien lo solicita, como es que de noche anda tan solita?
Inside: If it is the queen who is asking, how is it that she is out at night by herself?
Afuera: Mi esposa es Maria, es reina del cielo y madre va a ser del Divino Verbo.
Outside: My wife is Mary, she is the queen of heaven and she will be the mother of the Divine Truth.
Adentro: Eres tu Jose, tu esposa es Maria entren peregrinos no los conocia.
Inside: It is you Joseph and your wife Mary enter pilgrims I did not recognize you.
Afuera: Dios pague senores vuestra caridad y os colme el cielo de felicidad.
Outside: God pay your charity and fill heaven with happiness.
Adentro: Dichosa la casa que alberga este dia a la Virgen Pura la hermosa Maria!
Inside: Holy is the home that houses on this day the Pure Virgin, the beautiful Mary!
Entren santos peregrinos,reciban este rincon y aunque es pobre la morada se las doy de corazon.
Enter holy pilgrims, receive this corner and although the dwelling is poor I offer it to you out of the kindness of my heart.
The people who were outside representing Mary and Joseph enter the home, and inside a huge party is waiting for them. There is food and drinks for everyone. There are two drinks which are only made and drank during this time. One is called Ponche, a warm fruit drink, and Champurrado. A drink similar to hot chocolate yet is denser and contains a lot more ingredients. The food served is decided by the person hosting the party. At the end of the party all the guests receive a bolo, a bag that contains an orange, peanuts, sugar cane, and candy. On the ninth day the celebration changes, each family celebrates in each of their homes. At midnight the Jesus child is laid down in his place in the Nativity, which every family who celebrates posadas has.
The whole celebration is a re-enactment of what is thought to have occurred when Jesus was born. The celebration thus ends when Jesus is finally born and laid in the manger. The ingredients for the drinks and the gift bag are typical of the season. Certain ingredients, for instance, the sugar cane are only seen during Christmas time. The drinks are served hot because it is winter during this season.
Veronica grew up practicing this tradition in Mexico City. She learned the recitation and how to make the drinks through practice. She no longer takes part in the celebration because it is not popular in the city where she currently lives, although she still makes ponche, champurrado, and bolos.
I actually took part in one of these re-enactments in a church in Las Vegas, NV. It was only one night as opposed to the nine nights, but I did sing the song above. I also drank ponche, which I did not like, and champurrado, which I loved. At the end I got a goody bag with candies, peanuts, and an orange, yet did not get a sugar cane.