Las Posadas: A Latin American Christmas Custom

By Yumi Hanamura
Staff Writer

A Mexican Christmas celebration called Los Posadas was celebrated on campus, on Wednesday, Dec. 5. In Spanish, Las Posadas means “the inns” or ”the lodgings” and represents the Biblical journey of Mary and Joseph as they searched for a shelter in Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus.

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“This is the Catholic event on Christmas season,” said Father Ted Brown, the chaplain at LIU Post’s Interfaith Center. “From nine days before to the Christmas Eve, Latin American Catholics do this custom every night,” he stated.

Traditionally in Mexico, people gather in a neighborhood home to have a party each night from Dec. 16 to 24. Children get dressed as shepherds, angels, Mary, and Joseph. An angel leads the guests carrying candles to the house—in this case, a dorm. They sing a carol to ask for shelter, and then the host sings a reply regarding their request. After that, guests are welcome to have a party. They end the party with a pinata shaped like the Christmas star. The last day of Las Posadas is on Dec. 24, which is followed by midnight mass, the celebration of Jesus Christ.

People who took part in the custom gathered in the campus chapel, and then the journey began. Students played pilgrims who traveled from house to house searching until they reached a designated home where Las Posadas would be celebrated. First, they made rounds to each dorm, carrying candles with them. When a group of around 15 students reached each dorm, they sang a carol such as “Joy to the World.” After going around the dorms, they went to the Interfaith Center, which is regarded as the shelter, and decorated the chapel.

“I came to join this because it sounded fun,” said Aimee Biernacki, sophomore Healthcare Administration major. “It is a good way to come together with other students, so I want to come back again next year,” she added.

This was the fourth celebration for Matt Mason, senior Criminal Justice major. “As it gives me [a sense of] community, I came to this since I entered LIU Post,” he stated. Mason added that he would have wanted join this seasonal custom even if he weren’t a Catholic.

“Originally, Las Posadas is a Catholic custom, but it is not only for the Catholic on campus” said David Armas, junior Sociology major, who is the vice president of the Newman Club Catholic Community, LIU Post’s Catholic student organization. He continued, “Las Posadas this year was really successful. Many people stayed [until] around 11 p.m. to decorate the chapel.”

The Interfaith Center is currently decorated with a Christmas tree, along with green and red lights. The decoration was done by those who took part in Las Posadas.

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