Las Posadas is a novena (nine days of observance commemorating the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy) from December 16th to the 24th. Las Posadas is Spanish for “lodging” which refers to the inn with “No Vacancy” in the story of Jesus’ birth. Some historians believe that Las Posadas rose from the ashes of holidays on the ancient Aztec calendar. Tonantzin Guadalupe (the mother of the gods) was celebrated on the winter solstice, and missionary priests transformed this pagan festival into a Christian celebration. Others believe that the tradition originated 400 years ago in Mexico to commemorate Mary and Joseph’s searching for a warm place to spend the night in Bethlehem. Regardless, either a couple dressed as Mary and Joseph riding on a donkey or statues of the couple are processed. In some traditions, the Holy Family is denied entrance at several homes until they reach the designated “lodging” for that evening. Here Mary and Joseph are welcomed, and the Holy Family and guests (often including musicians and children dressed as angels and shepherds carrying lit candles) enter, pray, and sing around the Nativity scene. After a festive meal, a star-shaped piñata is broken open.
~Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church