In Mexico, we don’t miss a chance to celebrate, and December is the festive month per excellence. Christmas is coming, holidays are close, and people are happy buying presents for their loved ones, as well as preparing delicious meals. As the 24th approaches, other celebrations associated with the date arise. For instance, the Christmas branch tradition and the much-awaited posadas season. But what are these festivities? And what is the origin of posadas?
“Posadas” are dinner parties that people organize with their friends, colleagues, and classmates from December the 16th till 24th. They’re an occasion to gather, celebrate camaraderie, eat good food, drink some tequila, eat sweets, sing, and smash a piñata.
The origin of Posadas
All Latin America + Spain organize group dinner parties in the days before Christmas, but Mexican posadas are a different thing. The reason for that is that the origin of posadas in Mexico is double: Aztec and Catholic.
On one hand, “posada” means Inn, and the festivity commemorates the pilgrimage of St. Mary and St. Joseph from Inn to Inn before the birth of Jesus Christ. Churches ritualized this history with “Aguinaldo Masses”, where attendants sang Christmas songs and were given a small gift.
Over time, these church rituals were more and more upgraded, with candles, sparklers, and piñatas, and people started to celebrate them on their houses and neighborhoods. In the present, posadas are very popular festivities among Mexican people. And that links to the non-Catholic origin.
The origin of posadas dates even before the Masses of Aguinaldo. Before colonization, the Aztecs commemorated the arrival of Huitzilopochtli, the God of War. The festivities started on the 6th of December and lasted for 20 days. One of its parts was “raising the flag”, on the main temple of the town and the fruit trees of the village or city. On the 24th and the 25th, people celebrated the winter solstice at their homes, offering food to their guests, as well as small pasta figures, the tzoatl.
As part of the colonization efforts, evangelists substituted the commemoration of the arrival of Huitzilopochtli with the Christmas preparations, including posadas. Nevertheless, there is a continuity in the spirit of the festivity.
Learn also about the Día de Reyes in Mexico and Ibero-America.