>> Tuesday, December 22, 2009
From an article on Yucatan Today:
The chillier nights of December mean Christmas is on the way. While we cannot offer you snow-covered lanes or chimneys for Santa, Mexico does have its own unique and memorable array of traditions.
Las Posadas: Christmas festivities begin on December 16 with posadas, nine consecutive days of candlelight processions and lively parties. Throughout Mexico, young people gather in the afternoons to reenact the holy family's quest for a place to sleep in Bethlehem. The procession is headed by a diminutive Virgen María, often sitting atop a live burro, led by an equally tiny José. They are followed by other children who portray angels, the Three Kings, and a host of shepherds, all decked out in colorful handmade costumes and carrying walking staffs or paper lanterns.
The parade of holy pilgrims stops at a designated house to sing a traditional litany in which the holy family requests shelter for the night and those waiting behind the closed door continue to turn them away. They proceed to a second home where the scene is repeated. At the third stop the pilgrims are told that while there is no room at the inn, they are welcome to take refuge in the stable. The doors are opened to the weary travelers and everyone is invited to enter. While this is an active way of teaching children the story of the Nativity, the chief attraction is the merrymaking that follows, the ruthless smashing of piñatas and a mad scramble for the shower of candies released from within.