Marist Celebrates the Tradition of Las Posadas

Las Posadas

Commemorating the journey that Joseph and Mary
made from Nazareth to Bethlehem


Marist High School is proud to celebrate and share the rich history of a holiday tradition that is over 500 years old - Las Posadas. 

Las Posadas is a novenario (an extended devotional prayer). It is celebrated chiefly in Latin AmericaMexicoGuatemalaHondurasCubaSpain, and by Hispanics in the United States. It is typically celebrated each year between December 16 and December 24. Latin American countries have continued to celebrate the holiday, with very few changes to the tradition.

Origins of Las Posadas

Las Posadas derives from the Spanish word posada (lodging, or accommodation) which, in this case, refers to the inn from the Nativity story. It uses the plural form as the celebration lasts for a nine-day interval (called the novena) during the Christmas season, which represents the nine-month pregnancy of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

Marist Celebrates Las Posadas

On Thursday, December 16, Marist High School celebrated Las Posadas by sharing the history and music of this important holiday tradition. To commemorate the nine-day religious celebration, nine readings and songs were shared with students in Champagnat Square during their lunch hours.

As we share in this tradition that celebrates the Mary, Joseph, and Jesus Christ, we also ask all to remember the journey for each of us continues. On this pilgrimage we are often the innkeeper. Christ, who seeks lodging in our hearts, calls us to care for the poor, to care for those in need who seek “posada.”

Let us tend to those most in need this holiday season and continue to be Christ's light here on earth.

History of Las Posadas

The celebration has been a Mexican tradition for over 500 years, starting in 1586. Many Mexican holidays include dramatizations of original events, a tradition which has its roots in the ritual of Bible plays used to teach religious doctrine to people who were unable to read in 10th- and 11th-century Europe.

Re-enactment of the Holiday Tradition

Las Posadas is celebrated in cities and towns across Mexico. Each evening during the festival, a small child dressed as an angel leads a procession through the streets of the town. The procession is primarily made up of children dressed in silver and gold robes carrying lit candles and images of Mary and Joseph riding a donkey. Adults, including musicians, follow the procession, which visits selected homes and asks for lodging for Joseph and Mary. Traditionally, the procession is always refused lodging, though the hosts often provide refreshments. At each stop, passages of scripture are read and Christmas carols are sung.

Mass is held each day after the procession, and, at the conclusion of the service, children break open piñatas filled with candy, toys, and, occasionally, money. The piñatas are usually crafted in the form of a star, which is said to have guided the three wise men of biblical tradition to the newborn Jesus.

Music of Las Posadas

The musical choices depend on the prayer format, where and how it is celebrated. Las Posadas, found in most hymnals, is the familiar and traditional text sung when the pilgrims arrive at each location. Hymns that carry the theme of the novena are included in the prayer service and final celebration. “Toda La Tierra” (Orlando Rodriguez/Rogelio Zelada): “Voy caminando por este mundo, te voy buscando en mis hermanos;” Levántate (Cesáreo Gabaráin): “al mismo Dios recibiré. En mi interior se sembrará;” Ven a Nuestro Mundo (Antonio Alcalde):“con la Virgen Madre, te espera la Iglesia), “El Dios, con nosotros, ya está en nuestra tienda;” Que se Abran los Cielos (Eleazar Cortés) are examples of texts that carry the theme.

“Ven, Señor a salvarnos/Come, O Lord, set us free” (Reza). This common psalm may be sung as a response to the Scripture Reading. “Daniel 3: Canto del Universo” (Juan Espinosa) this simple, joyful setting of the canticle, can take the place of one of the readings.

Bernadette Farrell’s "Litany of the Word” and Dan Schutte’s “Litany of Peace” may be sung in place of the traditional litanies. As “Las Posadas” has united us to the past, today it continues to unite neighborhoods and parish communities. In some areas it is celebrated as an annual city-wide event stressing the need to care and provide shelter for those in need. Making good hymn choices supports the meaning of this Christian drama.

Experience Las Posadas Near You

Now that you know all about the history of Las Posadas, there is another opportunity to experience the celebration first-hand. The Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Oak Forest will host Las Posadas  - Journey to Bethlehem – on December 18, from 4 PM – 7 PM. People are invited to join the band of pilgrims, as they knock on door after door, looking to find a place. Finally, participants will come to a place where someone will give them "Posada" (housing at a hostel or an inn), which is a cause for celebration!

And the fiesta begins with music from the famous Mariachi band – Cielito Lindo – as seen on ABC-TV. Food, drink, dancing and, of course, the breaking of the pinata are part of the celebration!

The event is free and open to the public, though masks will be required indoors. Details can be found here.

Other Resources

A video reading of “The Night of Las Posadas” read by author Tomie dePaula

Another storybook reading of “Uno, Dos, Tres, Posada!” by Spanish Mundo

Learn how families celebrate Las Posadas!

Learn about Christmas in Mexico that includes Las Posadas.

Watch and learn about the traditional Mexican Posada Party in Puerto Vallarta.

See the musical performance of “La Fiesta de la Posada” music by David Brubeck

Listen how a KSAT12, a South Texas news station, shares the story of Las Posadas and how the festivities celebrated by both Catholics and non-Catholics, brings neighborhoods and communities together during the holiday season.




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