Posted by Nancy C on December 28, 2006, 6:16 pm
This article appeared in our recent Hendersonville, NC newspaper. I thought it described the posada very well and the translation of the songs were especially helpful. Hope you find it enlightning.|
'My Home Is Your Home'
By Suzanne Comer Bell
Mexican Americans are keeping posadas alive in America, blending merriment with religious faith to make a Christmas tradition that is highly anticipated by adults and children alike.
In Mexico, Christians travel through the village in colorful, parade-like processions from house to house. In the United States, however, Mexican Americans select houses, a church, or restaurant to host each posada.
Posadas are held for nine consecutive nights, from Dec. 16 through Dec. 24, before Christmas. The nine nights symbolize the nine months of Mary's pregnancy. The travelers or pilgrims come to a house and sing "litanies" (prayers) to ask for entrance into the house. When they are finally admitted, the festivities begin.
One of the first posadas in Transylvania County this year was held at Cielito Lindo restaurant, says Judy Nebrig, a volunteer in El Centro Communitario Hispano Americano. Others were hosted by families in their homes. The final one gathered at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where many Hispanic Christians worship in Brevard.
Light in the Darkness
A week before Christmas, on the third night of the posadas, about 35 Hispanic friends gathered in a small, decorated family room in the home of Jesus Estrada and Josephina Javier. Tucked away on a dark hill near Rosman, the house was lit with strings of outdoor Christmas lights and the glow from a small tree shone through the windows.
Families and friends trickled in. Several friends arrived with songsheets, a small wooden inn with miniature figures of Mary, Joseph, and an innkeeper, and candles. An appointed group of young men and women went outside to begin the drama, sung entirely in Spanish. They played the Pilgrims:
In the name of the heavens
The Innkeepers ...
Bearing candles and the peregrina (the miniature inn and figures), the pilgrims sang to beg entrance to find posada (lodging), but they were turned away. "Go away, you might be a thief!," called the innkeepers in response to the lodging request. Finally, once the innkeepers realize Joseph's wife will be "queen of the heavens," the pilgrims were admitted. Everyone joined together for a litany of prayers and upbeat singing to welcome the weary travelers.
Happy (or blessed) is the house
Enter holy pilgrims
Lyrics in English taken from "Mama Lisa's World Blog," www.mamalisa.com
After the drama, the peregrina was placed on a shelf, and everyone stood in a circle for a brief litany of Bible readings and prayers. A liturgist read from the book of Philippians, offered time for reflection, and led prayers focusing on compassion and gratitude.
One prayer responded with this reflection: "It is because of gratitude that we can live together in harmony and in unity." Other prayers emphasized compassion and welcoming others, the lessons these modern-day pilgrims hope to learn from the age-old story of Mary and Joseph's search.
The entire evening had a welcoming tone that is typical of Mexican culture, Judy Nebrig emphasized. As each new group or family entered the house out of the dark, quiet night, "Buenos noches" rang through the bright room from each person. "My home is your home," Jesus Estrada said, upon greeting a newcomer. He and his wife made sure their guests had plenty to eat and drink.
While this posada followed the particular traditions of Veracruz, the home region of most of the Mexican Americans in this group, two people spoke of posadas from other regions.
For instance, Teresa Rocha described posadas in her home region of Guadalajara. The posadas are held in villages and people walk up and down the street going from one house to the next looking for shelter (posada). Finally, on the last night they are welcomed into a home to stay.
And in San Luis Potos’, a town south of Mexico City, posadas begin in church and proceed to several houses who refuse them, then finally reach a house that admits them for the night, said Norberto Melgarejo. People in the first house lead the crowd to the next house and pass the peregrina to the home that finally receives the pilgrims. The group carries larger Mary and Joseph figures. In some places, he said, people dress up as the couple and Mary may even ride a real donkey. The finale is the traditional delight of many pi–atas for the children to burst.
In Mexican culture, the pi–ata originated with the posada tradition. Originally made of earthenware pots and covered with papier mache, pi–atas were shaped as seven-pointed stars and represented the devil and the seven deadly sins. They were hit and burst to attack and destroy the sins. Then once destroyed, the pi–atas released all the good things that the devil had horded, like candy!
To Norberto, the significance of posadas in Mexico is about keeping families together, and making sure people get together and socialize. For him, as it was for Mary and Joseph on that first night's long journey, a posada is about love.
The "posadas" tradition dates back to the sixteenth century, when Spanish Catholic missionaries came to Mexico in 1538. It followed from the Aztec celebration of the birth of the sun god. Seeing the wisdom of teaching the story of Jesus to Mexicans, the Papacy granted special permission to allow nine masses to represent the nine months of Mary's pregnancy, and to prepare for the coming of Christmas. It spread throughout the country and has been adapted by regions with different foods and variations on the drama that is performed.
After the drama and prayers, a key part of the festival came out: The food! Josephina had made tomales, a mixture of chicken, cornmeal, and spices wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.
When each person opened the thick black and green banana leaves, they found a spicy and filling tamale. It was a simple presentation, two huge tomales on paper plates, washed down with canned drinks. But there was plenty, and more tomales were offered until everyone was full.
"I will have three," proclaimed Norberto, as he fully enjoyed the hospitality celebrated at Las Posadas. "You must have three."
|Message Views: 19|
|By posting, you confirm that you have read and |
Be sure to visit www.lamanzanilla.info