Christmas 2019

How was your Christmas? That’s what people ask me after the Christmas holidays. I wanted to say, “fine, we had a lot of gifts and I got what I asked for on my wish list” It wasn’t true. The reality is that I haven’t finish celebrating the holidays because we still have one more event that we still celebrate, the Three Kings or the Epiphany on the first Sunday in January.
Let me explain. My Christmas starts 9 days before Christmas Day. There two things that we do during that time. Every night we have a “Posada”, This is a reenactment of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem after a long journey. People dressed up as Mary and Joseph going from house to house, knocking on doors and pleading for a room with the owner denying them a place to stay because they have no vacancy. So when they visit the last house, they are jubilant and the owner has a nice meal or refreshments for the pilgrims.
So, when we do have a Posada, it is well coordinated as to which house will be denying entry and whose house will be the last house. The host would have already set up the food and drink. The most important thing is that it is not church sponsored but made up by parishioners who want to continue this tradition which has been going on for hundreds of years by different families in different Catholic churches throughout the country in Mexico and the United States. The script and songs are the same. It has been handed down generation to generation.
The other tradition we go to see is the “Pastorela”. This is also a play about the shepherds who were visited by Angels and told about the Christ Child. It is a long play which last two or three hours and all the players are men and women who have played different role and have memorized all their lines.
The Pastorela was designed by the Bishop in Mexico to teach the Indians about the Christ Child and why it was important. This was 500 years ago and it has been playing exactly the same way every year around Christmas. Again, the roles are passed on to their family and each generation continues the role year after year.
Now, to make people aware of this tradition, there is a video about the Pastorela with Linda Ronstadt as the Angel and several movie stars as the characters in the play. It follows the play in a loosely fashion but people get the general idea.
How was my Christmas? Well, I can tell you that it is different from when I was in the military. Back then, it was a one-day affair with dinner provided by the Mess Hall for the families in our unit. We actually open the gifts on Christmas day.
Today we follow the Posadas every night before Christmas and in our family, we invited the whole family to have our own posada at home on Christmas Eve and we lay the newborn baby Jesus in our own stable. Every year we have the youngest in the family take the baby before laying in the crib and pass the baby around to honor with a kiss of humility. After that, we have a feast of Tamales followed by opening gifts that everybody has brought for the family. The next day was for visiting the rest of the Extended family and following up with more tamales.
So, how was your Christmas? We have menudo for New Year’s Eve and we still have the Three Kings celebration.

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