Mexico City (Fides Service) - Mexico is rich in Christmas traditions, including “las Posadas” (the Inns) which dates to the 16th century and commemorates the journey Mary and Joseph made to Bethlehem and their unsuccessful search for a room at the Inn. This tradition of Las Posadas is celebrated during the Christmas Novena 16 to 24 December as a spiritual preparation for the great celebration of the birth of Jesus.
It is thought that the feast was started by Augustinians at a monastery at Acolman. The brothers used the coincidence of the Aztec feast for the birth of their main god, Huitzilopochtli and the Birth of Jesus Christ. Las Posadas was first celebrated in the 16th century during the Christmas Novena. Later in addition to the commemoration with hymns and prayers there was a party with refreshments for all. Gradually the feast became a tradition which displayed the human and divine aspect of Christmas, faith and feasting, prayers and entertainment.
Las Posadas include reading from Holy Scripture, a torchlight procession with statues of Mary and Jesus in search of a room at the inn. The procession accompanied with singing stops at homes on the way, until they find the one where they are welcomed. The procession enters and there is a reading from the Gospel, candles are lit, the rosary is recited and then the party begins. Children wait for the moment when star shaped cookies in honour of the Three Kings and the Star distributed. The cookies are contained in a pignatta which is broken open and symbolises the Birth of Christ which destroys sin. (R.Z.) (Agenzia Fides 22/12/2004; righe 26, parole 398)