What was it like for Mary and Joseph on the eve of Christ’s birth? It was probably cold – just as it’s been in Dixon recently – and critical for the couple to find a safe, warm place to have their baby.
Each year around Christmastime Dixon families re-enact Mary and Joseph’s struggle to find lodging during a nine-day celebration called Las Posadas.
Throughout the week, members of have gathered at the church’s hall and host families’ homes throughout Dixon to celebrate Las Posadas – posada is the Spanish word for accommodations.
“This is a Mexican tradition that’s been passed down from our ancestors,” said Olga Lopez, who helped organize Thursday’s posada.
Lopez said Las Posadas is a tradition in Mexico and in Dixon as well. Parishioners at St. Peter’s have been re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem for 30 years or more.
On Thursday, about 50 church members gathered at the church’s hall and split up into two groups. One group was known as the outside group, representing Mary and Joseph. The other group was called the inside group, representing the innkeeper.
Each group took turns singing traditional songs – the outside group’s songs requested lodging from the inside group; the inside group’s songs denied the lodging at first. After the outside group convinced the inside group to grant lodging, the inside group opened its doors and the two groups became one in song and prayer.
Traditionally, the posada takes place at the home of a host family, one family for each of the nine days of the celebration that begins on Dec. 16 and lasts until Christmas Eve. Las Posadas lasts nine days to symbolize the nine months of pregnancy.
Thursday’s posada, sponsored by the Legion of Mary, took place inside the church’s hall and drew mostly women and children. The children are a focal point of Las Posadas and are given gifts and small bags of candy and treats called aguinaldos. Often, a piñata or two can be found at the celebrations and adults enjoy traditional Mexican meals such as tamales, atole (corn sugar drink), hot chocolate and coffee.
Lopez said in Mexico, Las Posadas is widely celebrated with grandeur with whole neighborhoods participating in the festivities. She said Dixon families keep that tradition alive locally as a way to celebrate the birth of Christ.
In case you missed last night’s posada, parishioners will once again gather at the church’s hall tonight to celebrate. The festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. For more information visit the church’s web site or call (707) 678-9424.