A favorite Christmas tradition in Guatemala, as well as in Mexico and other Latin American countries, is the tradition of the posadas. Here at NPH Guatemala, we held our first posada of the Christmas season last night.
Traditionally, posadas are held each of the nine days preceding Christmas. We do have nine posadas scheduled for this month at NPH, but I guess we decided to get an early start and do the first one last night? (Is that cheating?) The number nine is significant because it represents the nine months of Mary's pregnancy with Jesus.
Our posada began after dinner last night, with everyone huddled together outside, holding candles and trying to make out the words on our songsheets. Two kids dressed up at Mary and Joseph led the group as the posada's procession began.
Mary and Joseph up front.
As is custom, our little line of posada-goers walked together in a group, singing traditional posada songs -- and trying to make sure no one caught anyone else on fire with all those candles in the crowd. Staying within the NPH campus, we slowly passed from one building to another. (Traditional neighborhood posadas have the group passing from house to house.)
During a posada, at each house (or in our case, building) the group comes to, they stop to ask those living in the house if there is room for Joseph and very-pregnant Mary to stay the night. Through a dialogue of back-and-forth singing, the group is turned down at several different houses. They continue on, and the procession group grows larger as those from each house join in.
Moving from house to house.
A stop at the first home.
Finally, the posada reaches the home that says yes to Joseph and Mary's request. The entire posada group enters the home (our ending place was the comedor), and then -- that's right -- you have a party to celebrate! Our party included piñatas, hot chocolate, and goodie bags of candy, peanuts, oranges, and caña (sugarcane) for everyone.
Nine candlelit processions that end in nine parties with nine goodie bags of treats? No wonder the kids love it! So I'll go ahead and say it too: I think I like this tradition.