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Posadas is a wonderful Mexican holiday that brings neighbors and friends together for nine festive nights of singing and eating. Beginning December 16th and continuing through Christmas Eve, Posadas reenact the experience of Joseph and Mary as they wandered from house to house, looking for shelter (Posada means inn in Spanish) Traditionally, participants gather together to parade through the streets, carrying lit candles and led by the neighborhood children. The group pauses at various houses to sing a plea for lodging, only to be rejected by those inside the house in a sort of call-and-response carol. Upon arriving at the home of that night’s designated host, the song beings anew, but this time those inside the house relent and allow the pilgrims to enter.
You can read the lyrics to the song, and its English translation by clicking here. You can also watch a very cute group of boyscouts in the plaza of Tapachula, Chiapas sing the song. Click here for the video.
My favorite part of the night is of course the breaking of the piñata. The children (or in the case of my personal posada experience, adults) are blindfolded and spun around in order to disorient them, while two volunteers take control of the rope on which the piñata is suspended. As the blindfolded child tries to swat at the piñata, the adults jerk and pull the rope to keep it out of reach while onlookers play any number of tricks to confuse the child further: calling out false directions, blocking their stick, and chanting any number of variations of the following song:
“Dale, dale, dale,
no pierdas el tino;
porque si lo pierdes,
pierdes el camino.
Ya le diste uno, ya le diste dos
Ya le diste tres,
Y tu tiempo se acabó.”
(Hit it, hit it, hit it, don’t lose aim; because if you lose it, you will lose your way. You already hit it once, you already hit it twice, you already hit it three times, and your time is up.)
When the piñata finally breaks open, the group may be rewarded with candies or the traditional fillings: mandarins, oranges, sugarcane, peanuts, and a fruit called tejocote. You can watch children trying to break a piñata, and the traditional song, on YouTube here.