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What are the Christmas posadas in Mexico (posadas de Navidad)?

Each country has its own Holiday traditions - as proven in our article about Christmas in Spain. In Mexico, there is one particular tradition that stands on: las posadas.

What are posadas de Navidad?

The posadas are processions and family celebrations that start 9 days before Christmas (between the 16th and 24th of December). Basically, they are representations of the journey Joseph and Mary went through to find a place to give birth to baby Jesus. (Fact: a posada is an inn).

What are the traditions associated with posadas?

During the processions, people light candles and sing traditional religious songs. Usually someone will take on the role of Joseph, Mary, the Angel and the donkey. The procession will then go towards the house of a friend or a neighbor. At first, the people inside the house will refuse to give them shelter, but later they find out that they are Joseph and Mary and let everyone in.

Once everyone is at home and prays, another tradition takes place. We’re talking about the piñata. Although you may associate piñatas with birthdays, posadas are the true origin of this Mexican staple. Are you in for another story?

The origin of piñatas

Piñatas were used by missionaries to show indigenous people what temptation was. Originally all piñatas had a seven-point star shape, which symbolized the seven deadly sins. It should be full of sweets and fruits inside, covered with bright paper and, once ready, it represented the Devil. Children were blindfolded and had to spin 33 times (the number of years Christ lived) - because their blind faith would allow them to continue and resist temptation.

The wood stick to beat the piñata represented God, who gives us strength to resist each of the deadly sins. The sweets and the fruit that come afterwards were thus the love of God, which is bestowed upon us if we don’t give in to the Devil. So that’s the reason why you will still see star-shaped piñatas in Mexico all throughout the Holiday season. At the end of the posada, small bags of sweets and fruits are usually given.

Piñatas, of course, became popular in other occasions too. That’s probably how they made their way onto your own birthday party! We hope you enjoyed this little insight about Mexican culture - and don’t forget to participate in a posada navideña if you happen to be there during this time of the year.