The Posadas (Spanish for inn, lodging, or shelter) are an Advent candlelight procession and celebration.
In Mexico and some parts of Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador, it is traditional to hold the Posadas during the nine days before Christmas, beginning December 16 and ending December 24.
The Posadas are a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s long, frustrating search for a place where Jesus could be born.
The tradition reenacts the story told in Luke 2:1-7 but with a twist: a happy ending with the “innkeeper” welcoming Mary and Joseph into the home.
We learn from the Posadas that by welcoming the poor and the needy, we are welcoming Jesus into our midst. (See Matthew 25:40.)
In Mexico and other countries, neighbors take turns hosting Posadas. Children, adults, and musicians play the parts of Mary and Joseph or carry statues of Mary and Joseph. Together, they go house to house as Christian pilgrims searching for lodging. At one house after another, they ask for lodging, in song, and are turned away, also in song.
When the pilgrims reach the final stop of the procession, an additional verse is sung, in which Mary and Joseph are recognized by the innkeepers and allowed to enter the home.
Inside the home a celebration is held with food, music, and piñatas, festive decorated clay or paper mache containers filled with candies and hung from the ceiling.
In some regions, the piñata have the shape of a seven-cone star, and its cones represent sin, with garish colors and ribbons that tempt the soul. The blindfold that is placed on the children represents living or walking by faith alone.
The breaking of the piñata is a symbol of triumphing over temptation. The falling candy illustrates the grace of God.