Latino Affairs celebrates Las Posadas: Latin American tradition

Maria Ly
Staff Writer

Minnesota State University, Mankato celebrated Las Posadas, a traditional religious holiday commonly celebrated in Latin America, at the Multicultural Center Nov. 26. 

This year’s celebration was hosted by MNSU’s Latinx Affairs. The celebration featured a feast and fun activities. 

Some of their festivities included a game of “juego de lotteria”- a Mexican traditional game similar to bingo. Winners of the game received prizes such as Latinx Affairs sweaters and merch. The Latinx Student Union also conducted a gift exchange within the event. 

The celebration was in observance of the religious holiday Las Posadas. 

The holiday is commonly celebrated in Mexico but has expanded to other countries such as Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. 

Las Posadas, which translates as “The Inns”, focuses on the nativity story and Mary and Joseph’s difficult journey to Bethlehem where they desperately were in search for a place to stay awaiting the birth of Jesus. 

The holiday starts in Dec. 16 and lasts nine days to Dec. 24 – as the nine days commemorates the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy. 

Traditionally, each night, one family represents the holy family that agrees to house the “pilgrims”. 

Nidia Mariscal, a student at MNSU from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, said, “It’s kind of a gathering among neighbors and every single posada takes place at different houses.”

She continued, “When the posadas start there is a group of people that stand outside and some stand inside and we sing songs back and forth. The people outside carry a baby Jesus and when the people inside lets us in we give the baby to the person who owns the house. The person that has the baby brings it to the next posada and gives the baby to the next person and so on.”

Inside the home, prayer and songs continue as they enjoy a feast together ending with a star shaped piñata. Children usually receive gifts. 

Mariscal recounts this feast as in her family they usually had traditional Mexican food such as tamales, posole, champurrado, cakes and cookies, etc. 

As part of their Las Posadas celebration, MNSU’s Latinx Affairs held its own feast that included foods such as tamales, churros, chocolate abuelita, and candy. 

Mariscal said, “I used to celebrate it when I was little. It was the best time of the year to be honest. We went to a different house every night, lots of food and friends.”

One thought on “Latino Affairs celebrates Las Posadas: Latin American tradition

  • Daniel Sebold

    Last June I came up through Matamoros from Guatemala City and Veracruz via bus, having gone through the ancient Huasteca lands of Tamaulipas (the Huastecas are the far most northern speakers of a Mayan language living in this Tamaulipas state that borders the USA)–Matamoros has changed so much since the last time I passed through in 2,005, the quaint old border hotels and markets replaced by wide roads with barriers to channel us gringos into modern immigration buildings, and there is a huge new bus station as big as most American airports–typical now in Mexico. (Check out Queretaro’s huge new bus station as clean and as big as an international airport with express buses up to Dallas.) Mexico is first world computerized groovy now.

    I had been travelling for two months to the remote Franciscan missions of Queretaro state as well as my same old broken record visits to everywhere west and south through Jalisco to Guanajuato and on down to Oaxaca and Chiapas states to reshoot the same old stuff with a better camera (I am not buying any “better cameras” for now on. My feet hurt at this age)

    The sun rose over the Rio Grande as I crossed the border bridge from Matamoros into Brownsville, Texas, and, despite my looking like an aged Brando playing an aged Zapata in Steinbeck’s old movie, the US border guards let me pass when I told them I was a US citizen (San Francisco Immigration sometimes detains me when I come in from Bangkok due to the Saudi visas in my passport despite my having a copy of my DD 214 proving that I am an American war veteran. How many wars does it take before an Iowa born expat is treated as a US citizen?)

    At any rate, I came up from the Guatemala border on a first class bus and suddenly realized that there were a dozen children sitting on their mommies’ laps all piled on top of each other and they were all engrossed in some silly movie about an American song-and-dance group travelling through Spain and the French Riviera when the bus stopped and the Mexican Federalis came on board and pulled all the children off the bus. Twenty kilometers later, the adults got off and I had the bus all to myself all the way to Tampico.

    Back in the nineties, I passed through Matamorros at three AM in the morning and crossed the border bridge alone into the USA. I have also entered Mexico illegally twice, once after swimming across the Rio Grande and back at Mission, and another time, I just forgot to stamp in and made it all the way to the Guatemala border without a stamp in my passport. “Yo olvide” I said to the border guard, and I paid five dollars and he stamped my passport.

    At any rate, when I saw the word, “las posadas,” in the article, I couldn’t help but think of Don Quixote and all of the posadas he stayed in and who was sometimes thrown out of in Cervantes novel of the same name. I am now the same age as Cervantes’ hero, and, like Don Quixote have lived a similar unmarried life of travel, posadas and book reading. Both Cervantes and I started our Navy careers setting sail from the same Mediterranean city, Naples. Oh, well, I am off track.

    Daniel Sebold, English/Spanish alumnus writing from Siem Reap, Cambodia


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