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Journeying with Joseph & Mary: Las Posadas Christmas Tradition

Dec 15, 2016 By Gretchen Filz | 10 Comments

The Christmas Posadas tradition begins!

Las Posadas is a wonderful 400+ year old Advent celebration in many Latin countries. For 9 days, from December 16th-24th, the faithful prepare for Christmas by acting out and reliving the days Mary and Joseph experienced as they journeyed to Bethlehem, as written in the Gospels.

Mary and Joseph traveled from place to place seeking rest, only to be continually rejected, causing the Baby Jesus to be born in a stable manger.

This Catholic Christmas tradition was brought to Mexico in the 16th century by Spanish Augustinian friars as they evangelized the New World. Today the Las Posadas continues to be a wonderful way share and celebrate our Christian faith and heritage.

Las Posadas Procession in Santa Fe, New Mexico Las Posadas Procession in Santa Fe. Photo: Santa Fe New Mexican

The celebration begins with a nighttime procession. Participants hold candles, sing Christmas carols, and play the parts of Mary and Joseph. The procession makes its way to a particular home (a different one each night), where they sing a traditional song (La Cancion Para Pedir Posada - watch below), recite Scripture readings and prayers, and conclude with a festive meal. And piñatas for the kids!

THE SYMBOLISM

The nine nights of posadas leading up to Christmas are said to represent the nine months that Jesus spent in Mary's womb, or, to represent a nine-day journey to Bethlehem. The nine days also fits nicely in with the concept of a traditional nine-day novena prayer.

The Las Posadas is a wonderful way to deepen devotion to the Holy Family and to reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation of our Savior Jesus Christ, who was born to the holiest of families in the poorest of material circumstances.

la posada figure

 LEARN MORE

If you're interested in learning more about the Posada and incorporating this tradition into your Advent celebrations, this pamphlet, Traveling with Mary & Joseph: Praying las Posadas, briefly introduces the Posada experience and offers an abbreviated service for each night. It invites families and individuals to make a spiritual posada using Scripture readings and meditations for further reflection.

Using this pamphlet, readers will be able to participate in the simplicity and beauty of this time-honored tradition, even if they cannot participate in a Las Posadas in their local community.

Traveling With Mary and Joseph - Praying las Posadas

If you participate in the Christmas Posadas tradition, please comment below and tell us how your family, church, or community celebrates the nine days leading up to the birth of Jesus.

Las Posadas processions were brought to the New World in the 16th century by Augustinian missionary friars to celebrate the Holy Family and the birth of Jesus

This article has been updated and was originally published in December 2014. © The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.

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Commentary by

Gretchen Filz Gretchen Filz

Gretchen is a Lay Dominican with a passion for fostering an increase in Catholic faith and devotion. After receiving her M.A. in Christian Apologetics, she converted to the Catholic Faith in 2011. She lives and works in the Diocese of Charlotte.

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