Sunday, December 7, 2008

Las Posadas: Remembering Childhood Traditions

Sometimes it is very hard being so far away from familia. And the holidays are often the hardest. I think back about all the great times I had as a child during this time of year, and I wish so much that my own children could experience the same things.

For instance, the tradition of las posadas.

Growing up, this was one of my favorite holiday celebrations. More often than not, we participated in several each year before Christmas. Sometimes la posada was hosted by a community center or park, but most of the time a group of amigos took turns hosting it at their homes. I remember the pride each couple took in having one at their house. Rooms were meticulously cleaned, pictures of children and grandchildren were lovingly dusted, decorations were carefully arranged with special attention given to the tiny (and some not so tiny) nativity scenes. The homes were warm with love and laughter - especially the kitchens. ¡Ay! The aromas wafting from each one were a sensual delight - tamales, champurrado, chocolate caliente, buñuelos, and on and on...

I can remember usually being in the group that forms outside asking for shelter/lodging. Bundled up against the chilly nights with a tiny white candle in one hand and a piece of paper with song lyrics in the other, we would sing our little hearts out, steam from our breaths rising like the notes into the black, frosty sky above.

Occasionally I got lucky and was chosen to be one of the people who carry los peregrinos (the statues of Mary and Joseph) in the procession. Such an honor, but I always felt a little guilty because I never could memorize the words to the songs so I had to lipsync and hope nobody caught on.

The best part though, of course being when the "inn keepers" finally granted us permission to enter and everyone began joyfully singing,

"Entren, Santos Peregrinos,
reciban este rincón,
que aunque es pobre la morada,
os la doy de corazón."

If you'd like a good description on the history and current celebration of Las Posadas tradition, you can check out Wikipedia or Mexico Connect or even CinnamonHearts

For the complete song lyrics, click here (includes a link to a printable score.)

Now, if you are getting ready to host una posada, and are planning your menu for the night, why not check out these recipes for tamales de chocolate y canela (shown above) or cinnamon chocolate coffee, or maybe this one for warm apple empanadas. Mmmmm, delicioso!

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