Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Las Posadas.

Warning! This will be a bit long, especially the explanation part. I've tried to make it as condensed as possible, but some things cannot be shortened. So be forewarned (meaning: hope you don't get bored)!
If it gets tedious, just link to past posadas, they are shorter with more images.

Today I will explain a bit about the Posadas. Since they officially start tomorrow, I have not gone to any yet. I will explain as much as I can, and then write as we are invited to them, Here are some links to last year's posadas posts.
Adriana's Posada 2008
Posada at Home

Posada litteraly means hostel, inn or just a place to sleep over. The idea is that Joseph and Pregnant Virgin Mary had to flee unexpectedly, and had no place to stay. They knocked on many doors before finding a place to stay. So starting tomorrow, Mary and Joseph will seek for a place to stay.

All the neighbors get together to decide who celebrates the Posada on which day starting tomorrw. Posadas are usually celebrated at night. What happens? Everybody who is invited to the Posada (sometimes everybody who lives on the street) will start with Joseph's and Mary's search for a place to stay. There are figures sold in the stores which show Mary on a donkey with Joseph walking next to her (there's a photo in last year's post). People walk behind the two people carrying the statues singing and praying. They head towards the chosen people's house for that posada. Most people stay inside and the family is inside. Then a asking/answering song starts in which Joseph asks for posada, and the owners of the house say there is no place for them. The pleading goes on till the owner of the house says he hadn't recognized the Mother of God, and invites them in. Everyone sings with joy at being accepted, and go into the house. Praying continiues, and when this ends the kids start sing "I want no gold, I want no silver, all I want is to break the Piñata" Everyone goes outside so the kids can break the piñata. After the piñata is broken, there is plenty of food and ponche.
Next day, the procession starts at the house where Mary and Joseph stayed, and goes to next house on the list. And it starts all over again..... till the 24th of December when at midnight Baby Jesus is born.

So now I explain the Piñata.
Apparently piñatas originated in China, but to make a long story short, when the Spanish were converting the natives, they used the idea brought from China with Aztec customs and created a very symbolic item. The original piñatas have seven spikes which represent the seven capital sins: greed, gluttony, laziness, pride, envy, wrath and lust. The person which is about to hit the piñata is blinfolded, this represents faith which should be blind. Then they try to hit and break the piñata or "sins". When they achieve this, they are "rewarded" with fruits and candy.
Even though most birthday piñatas have only candy, posada piñatas also have sugar canes, tejocotes (a type of crab apple), tangerines, and peanuts.

Traditional Piñata.


....and MORE!

The markets are full of piñatas and the stuff that goes inside on sale.

Traditional Posada drink. It is more like a super tea. Water is put to boil with the following ingredients: cinnammon sticks, hibbiscus flowers (jamaica), a type of brown sugar called piloncillo, chopped apples, tejocotes, split sugar canes, raisins, prunes, tamarinds, guavas. Depending on the family's tastes, some ingredients may be ommited. It is served very hot. Some people will serve it with rum or brandy.

Sugar canes all lined up for the piñata or ponche.

This is the way the sugar cane is put into the piñata.
For the ponche, it is usually stripped of its
outside covering.

Tamarind, this is the dried kind. It is sour,
but gives the ponche a great taste.

For the piñata, just the way it is.
For the ponche, washed and cut in half.

And since I want to La Central de Abastos to take photos of the Piñatas, I took some of the poinsettias being sold there. Oh, in Mexico they are called Nochebuena which means Christmas Eve.

There were about twenty stalls selling
the Nochebuena plants.

There are three common varieties, red,
white, and pink.

People like the red type most.

The white looks also pretty.

These are the ones I bought. I got four
red and one white. Each plant cost about
$1.20 dollars.

This is the first time I see this new variety.

The leaves are sort of crinkled.

They are called Nochebuena Rehilete,
which means Pinwheel Poitsettia.

And now the Giveaway.
I made some totes with some Mexican cloth. There are four totes in all. Two will have a Mexican scarf each (not a warm scarf, but very pretty), ant the other two totes will have dish towels which are used very much here.
I took photos of the gifts, but it was too dark, and with a flash the colors were distorted.
I`m posting them here anyway.

Some days ago I took a photo of the cloth I was going to use.
I looks better here. It is called Cambaya.

This is one of the totes. It is very simple. Maybe it can be used
for books or when going to the market.

The inside is a nice blue..
(yes, those are the poitsettinas I bought).

Scarf one...

Scarf two...

The other photos are terrible. I will try to take more in daylight.
How can you win? Leave a comment telling about any family tradition you have fond memories about. And leave your e-mail so I can contact you if you win. I will send to any country. I will be making the draw on Monday, midnight. Oh, and please keep into consideration that the gifts will probably arrive in January. It takes about two weeks from Mexico, plus any Christmas rush in your country.

I want to thank Pam over at Gingerbread Snowflakes for getting me all excited ino producing these posts. Go visit her, she has links to celebrations from all over the world.

I also want to thank all my blogger friends for making nice comments, and following me around in this Mexican adventure.

Next post-Nacimientos (Nativity scenes or Creche). Promise it will be much shorter.
Hasta pronto.....


Anonymous said...

Oh Angie, this is a wonderful explanation of the Posadas. And I thank you so much for sharing it with all of us.

What a beautiful tradition that not only honors your religious beliefs but also creates close bonds and shared experiences among friends and neighbors.

Your photos of the pinatas and poinsettias are lovely. I did not know the pinata was such a big part of the Posadas festivities.

Please enter me in your giveaway! Your totes and scarves are beautiful! I hope I will win one!

My favorite memory: Getting in the car on Christmas eve when I was a little girl and driving all around the city looking at Farolitos (luminarias they are called these days). Many buildings in Santa Fe are built reflecting pueblo design and therefore have many ledges and window sills, and flat roof lines along which are lined up little paper sacks lit from within with burning candles. On a dark, clear night, with stars shining like a million diamonds in the sky, the buildings lit up by row upon row of these little lights can not help but bring a sense of awe and wonder to children of any age.

Anonymous said...

My grandpa had a Christmas tree farm when I was growing up. My favorite memories of Christmas center around the farm: working with Grandma in the shop while all the cousins helped clean and load trees onto customers' cars. There was always as much popcorn (Grandpa grew it too) and hot chocolate (Grandma made her own mix from scratch) as you could want. Although the tree part of the farm is now retired, I'm looking forward to visiting there this Saturday.

ladybegood said...

Angie, I found your blog through Pam's blog, Gingerbread Snowflakes, and I have enjoyed your explanation of Posadas. It sounds like it is a wonderful celebration, bringing families and neighbors together.
When I was a child every year our family made a special trip downtown to look at the decorated Christmas windows in the local department stores. I am sure they would never be able to compete with the store windows in New York or Chicago, but, to me, they were magical. Thanks again, Angie.

molleemac said...

How much fun I am having learning about all the celebrations and traditions in Mexico! The Posada sounds like such a great way to celebrate the holidays with your friends and family, and I bet the kids love it! And thank you for explaning the pinata, I had no idea of the significance of the 7 cones.

Our family tradition is more close to home. The days leading up to Christmas we spend doing holiday activities. One day we will help wrap gifts at a shelter, one day we go look at the decorations and lights on the houses around town, one night we go sit by the river and watch the lighted ships go by, and one day we make our gingerbread house and cookies for our annual Christmas eve party.

I hope I win your tote! The colors look fabulous! And I know my daugter would love to carry her books to and from school in it.

Happy Posadas!


Barkley's Mommy said...

Feliz Navidad! My favorite Christmas memory is of my Mother singing "Silent Night"... In Japanese!

Liz said...

I'm loving your post! My students do a unit on Mexico in social studies class, so I am going to share your blog with their SS teacher.

As for a family tradition I have forn memories of, it would have to be making Christmas cookies.

My great grandma came to the US from Germany, so we made German cookies - from her original recipes written in German. We always made a lot of different varieties - lebkuchen, springerle, roll out cookies, and other ones whose names I forget. I just remember thinking it was wonderful taht I was making the exact same cookies my great grandma made - using a recipe in her handwriting long after she had passed on.

Juanita said...

TY for describing the Posadas tradition. Loved seeing the pictures, too. My growing up family didn't really have traditions, as such. As a result, when I had children of my own I built all kinds of traditions into our Christmas celebrations for them; hopefully, they have good memories from them. We hung stockings, opened advent calendars daily, cut down our own fresh trees, and baked birthday cakes and sang "Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus" before blowing out a candle and having delicious birthday cake. :)

IndyPoppy said...

Hello Angie,
Well downunder in Australia nearly always have a hot christmas...its the middle of summer. Even though it is so hot we always insist on having a baked dinner followed by Christmas pudding. My favourite memory is of my Grandma creating the christmas pudding or "plum pudding". Grandma despite the heat would insist on using the wood fired stove to cook the plum pudding....it would boil away for hours.. Now when you make a pudding its essential that it comes out perfectly shaped. It is wrapped in a calico pudding cloth and this must be removed after cooking...The aim is for the pudding to stay in this bundled shape. I can remember this one christmas wherby Grandmar was a bit impatient, wanting to see if it turned out right. The big unvailing happened and all looked right, then, just as Grandmar began to relax a crack formed in the middle of the pudding and the pudding fell ungracefully in half. Grandma was gutted, but gosh it was funny to see.

Anonymous said...

Nochebuena, I like that! And I didn't know about las posadas or the origin of pinatas.

I am officially not entering this giveaway as I have already been the lucky recipient of one of Angie's giveaways as well as receiving 2 beautiful watercolors on another occasion. The scarves are beautiful.

I just wanted to comment on how interesting this tradition is. It sounds like a beautiful, festive time.

Lemonpuss said...

Lovely blog, and beautiful post. I am inspired to incorporate pinatas into our festivities!

My strongest memory of Christmas is something I carry on now with my kids. Every year we waited for a snowy day to go cut down our Christmas tree. Once home, we would sit around the tree and make popcorn and cranberry garlands to wind around the tree. As a very young girl, my mom would let me use the sharp needle which was a huge thrill. The simple red and white garlands were the best part of the tree for me, and the time spent sitting as a family, singing and decorating, was one of the best parts of the year.

Your sewing is lovely - such gorgeous fabrics!

Happy holidays.


Anonymous said...

Hey there,

I was surfing the web when I found your blog. I'm originally from Hidalgo, Mexico but living in FL, USA. I see you're enjoying Mexico and its people. I'm actually an elementary teacher and hopefully you don't mind using some of your pictures in my classroom... I usually talk about other traditions and I really enjoy your entries :) Feel free to comment on my blog too :)

Chris said...

These fabrics look beautiful even with lighting issues! I always struggle to reproduce colors correctly, but sometimes it just can't be done..

Thanks so much for taking the time to inform about the Posadas. A lot of this I didn't know, and I had never heard of that super tea before!

Have a wonderful season, Angie.