(DEC. 24) The Las Posadas celebration commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem and their search for shelter in preparation for to Jesus’ birth. Las Posadas has been played out in Mexico for centuries. The tradition goes back to 1538, when Jesuit priests came to New Spain to convert the natives to Roman Catholicism. At the time, the natives celebrated a nine day feast honoring the coming of an Aztec sun god. The missionaries used the nine-day framework and adapted it to Christianity. The tradition has thrived for nearly six centuries in Mexico and throughout Latin American.
On Olvera Street, Las Posadas is one of Los Angeles’ oldest Christmas events. “Seasonal entertainment” commences nightly at 5:30pm, and will be played out for nine nights by the Olvera Street Merchants, from December 16 through Christmas Eve. The event will feature a candlelight procession starting at the historic Avila Adobe at approximately 7pm. The leaders of the march, usually children, will be dressed as shepherds, angels, and Mary and Joseph. They will be followed by dozens of other worshipers. The public is invited to join in or merely observe. The procession will run up and down Olvera Street with the group singing songs in English and Spanish. They will make stops requesting lodging at designated points (“posadas,” or stores), but will be denied, usually in song. Eventually they will be admitted, complimentary champurrado (a Mexican hot beverage) and pan dulce (sweet bread) will be served, and piñatas will burst.