Las Posadas: a rich, cultural tradition
As Holy pilgrims Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, they searched unsuccessfully for shelter until an innkeeper granted them access to a simple stable, which became the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
In Latino/Hispanic communities around the world, “Las Posadas” (“The Inns” in Spanish) recreates this journey. An advent tradition, the dramatization and celebration occurs on nine consecutive evenings, starting December 16 and ending Christmas Eve.
At the Cathedral, members of the Latino/Hispanic congregation once again will host Las Posadas and invite all who’d like to experience this spiritual, cultural, and community celebration, says Sonia Velazquez, who is organizing the 2017 observance.
Each night of Las Posadas, youths chosen to portray Mary and Joseph lead a small, candlelit procession from door to door, seeking refuge (and also, in the Cathedral version, singing carols). They carry a small manger with them (and it’s a bit heavy, previous participants have said).
Each procession includes nativity narrative and carols, followed by a brief worship service -- and a lively reception with food, games, more carols, and traditional piñata in the home of the hosting family. As always, the food is homemade, traditional and ample, she says, because no one follows the gentle guidelines for “nothing fancy.”
Although conducted mostly in Spanish, the familiar story and its re-enactment embody the spirit of Advent in a welcoming way, organizers say. The bilingual program for the readings and Psalms and the songbook of well-loved carols such as “Noche de Paz” (“Silent Night”) and “Feliz Navidad” make Las Posadas very accessible to English-only speakers who wish to experience this lovely tradition.
Where to find the Cathedral’s Las Posadas
Each year, groups of families from the Latino/Hispanic congregation and their friends partner to sponsor Las Posadas. Contact Yency Bermudez ( ) to get addresses or receive invitations. Unless otherwise noted, each procession begin at 7 p.m. Dates and general locations include:
• Saturday, Dec. 16: at the Cathedral, with a short Eucharistic service. It’s the “Gran Posada,” with a reception in Reynolds Hall.
• Sunday, Dec. 17: U.S. 290/Barker Cypress
• Monday, Dec. 18: 5th Ward, near I-45/Jensen Drive
• Tuesday, Dec. 19: U.S. 45/Fuqua Street
• Wednesday, Dec. 20: Wayside Drive /Lawndale Street
• Thursday, Dec. 21: Telephone Road/Bellfort Street (The Rev. Arthur Callaham’s calendar enables him to co-host.)
• Friday, Dec. 22: Greater East End, Wayside Drive/Avenue E
• Saturday, Dec. 23: South Loop 610/Park Place Boulevard
• Sunday, Dec. 24: at the Cathedral chapel, at 6 p.m. This final posada is the only one to include the Baby Jesus.
On Sunday, Dec. 31 at the 1 p.m. service, a “Pastorela” involving the Spanish-speaking congregation’s youth further depicts the nativity story beyond Jesus’ birth.
What it means to host a posada
Last year, an estimated 800 parishioners attended Las Posadas, notes Yency Bermudez, Latin Ministry assistant. And there’s room for more to further create Cathedral community.
Having recruited sponsors, Velazquez says hosts agree to open their homes to Las Posadas for many reasons. Some remember the tradition from their childhood or homeland and want to share it here, she says. Others were never able to attend one growing up. Now that they’re Cathedral members, they welcome the opportunity to host one and, at the same time, to give new generations insights into their heritage.
As one who has previously been a host, Velazquez offers another motivation. To do so “is an honor, and, of course, a blessing.”
That’s because each host family keeps overnight the little manger – and nativity figurines – carried by Mary and Joseph in that night’s procession, she says. “In receiving and welcoming Mary and Joseph in our homes, we connect, repeating the blessing we sing in one of the last paragraphs of the procession. It reads:
"Dichosa la casa que abriga este dia a la virgen pura la Hermosa Maria,” or, " Blessed is the house that cherishes this day the pure virgin, the beautiful Maria."