By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — Las Posadas, a 9-day celebration of Spanish origin, is celebrated chiefly in Mexico, Guatemala and parts of the southwestern U.S. The celebration begins Dec.16 and ends Dec. 24, usually held in the evenings between 8 and 10 p.m.
Our Lady of Guadalupe students took part in Las Posadas Dec. 19, 2013. Accompanied by teachers, parents and the principal, Joe Schramp, kindergarteners through sixth grade students walked to different restaurants on Southwest Boulevard, singing the Posadas song in Spanish, a different verse at each restaurant. It was a cool night but they were warmly welcomed at each establishment and, as it was still early evening, the staffs gathered to listen to the singing.
Posada is the Spanish word for lodging; said in the plural because the celebration continues for nine days, representing the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy. Las Posadas commemorates the difficulty Joseph and Mary had in finding lodgings in Bethlehem, and so ended up seeking shelter in the stable where Jesus was born.
In Mexico, Las Posadas has been a Christmastime tradition for more than 400 years. Its roots are in Catholicism, but even non-Catholic Christian Latinos follow the tradition. Its origins are uncertain: St. Ignatius Loyola may have held the first Las Posadas procession in Spain in the 16th century. Franciscan Friar Pedro de Gante, the first Christian missionary to the New World, may have begun the tradition in 16th century Mexico. Possibly other early Spanish Franciscan friars blended Catholicism with the December celebration of the birth of Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war, and so began Las Posadas. Whatever the beginning, the tradition remains strong in Latino nations and neighborhoods, including the West side neighborhood of Sacred Heart/Guadalupe Shrine and Our Lady of Guadalupe School.
After singing the Posadas song at the last restaurant on Southwest Boulevard, the students, teachers and parents trooped back to the shrine, where the students would sing Christmas carols for their families. The final carol was Silent Night, sung in both English and Spanish. The Christmas play was waiting in the shrine’s lower level hall, to be followed by a performance by Los Matachinas, a Mexican Indian dance troupe that honors Our Lady of Guadalupe. Members of the dance organization, Danza San Juadas Tadea carried a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in procession.
A meal of tamales and all the fixings prepared by the school’s PTO followed, with a visit from Santa Claus.
It was truly a Feliz Navidad celebration.