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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

For “Las Posadas”, Communities Commemorate Mary and Joseph’s Search for an Inn

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Suzanne Hammons
Suzanne Hammonshttp://dioceseofgallup.org
Suzanne Hammons is the editor of the Voice of the Southwest and the media coordinator for the Diocese of Gallup. A graduate of Benedictine College in Kansas, she joined the Diocesan staff in 2012.

In certain neighborhoods, any night from December 16 to 24, you may see a curious sight – people gathered outside a house, in the cold, praying a Rosary or singing songs.

This is the annual celebration of Las Posadas – “The Inns” or “The Lodgings” in English – which commemorates Mary and Joseph seeking a place to stay for the birth of Christ. Las Posadas is very popular throughout Latin America, and the tradition was brought to the United States and is celebrated within many Hispanic communities.

“I know that we’ve celebrated [it] in Mexico forever. It’s something that is a very, very old tradition,” says Gloria Walseth, secretary at St. Rita Parish in Show Low, AZ.

St. Rita’s is one of several diocesan parishes where Las Posadas is announced, and parishioners are invited to participate. Each day, a different family offers their house for the event.

Parishioner Humberto Bañuelos is one of those hosts. He describes the tradition as not just one of community and celebration, but as a religious commemoration.

“The significance of it is Our Lady – asking for lodging for a place to stay and they all say no. Where we’re taking it as a community is to teach the young children what happened. We’re trying to make it more of a family thing with kids and we dress them up as Jesus, Mary, and in each house as we go.”

Many hosts will invite the participants inside and offer dinner – usually Mexican food like tamales – and something warm to drink. On the final day, Christmas Eve, the Las Posadas celebration concludes with Mass at the parish.

“In some areas, it’s also for the businesses – they celebrate that for the employees,” says Walseth. “And in the churches in the small towns, it’s a big deal. The whole town celebrates and participates.”

For a celebration that has spread with previous generations throughout North America, Las Posadas is still going strong and being passed on.

“We’ve been doing this since we were kids, you know, we grew up with it. It’s a tradition, more than anything,” said Bañuelos. “Why I like it now is because the community wants us at their home. Everybody comes. Everybody – sometimes people you’ve never seen show up, so it’s a community thing and the houses pack up every night. It’s a beautiful ceremony.”

Featured image: Stephanie, left, and Alexander, right, as Mary and Joseph during a Las Posadas celebration. Image courtesy of Gloria Walseth.


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