Las Posadas is a celebration of Roman Catholic worship prior to Christmas. The practice of Mexican posadas, of Spanish origin, began in the town of San Augustine Acolman, northwest of Mexico City, one of the first places where these religious celebrations were established to carry out the task of evangelizaton.
Originally these nine masses, held from December 16 to24, referred to the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy, ending with the last on the eve of Christmas. Included also was the symbolic commemoration of the journey of the Holy Family from Galilee to Bethlehem prior to the birth of Jesus.
Over the years, the posada moved out of the church and gained more power in the neighborhoods and homes of the Mexican people as they formed groups which wandered from home to home asking for food and accommodations through the singing of the traditional posada song.
Today, many towns hold posadas as do organizations and families. Candles are lit and carried while the procession wanders though the neighborhood singing for accommodation and food. Children may dress up as Joseph, Mary, or angels. At the final home, food such as tamales and mulled punch are then served. Fire works and piñatas may be part of the celebration.