Passing on cultural traditions (both Mexican and US) to our children is extremely important to my husband and I: language, food, celebrations, and religion are four significant areas that we try to integrate into our lives. Not only does it help them identify with both the English and Spanish communities, but it strengthens the bond we have within our family, instills pride in their heritage, and increases their language competence. But even for children who are not Mexican, learning about Las Posadas and other traditions of Christmas around the world (actually, ANY holidays around the world!). This English-Spanish bilingual book helps kids learn about Las Posadas as they color the pictures and read the story.
When my husband was growing up in Mexico City, his family and friends would celebrate Las Posadas every December. “Las Posadas” (which means “lodging”) is a lovely tradition celebrated the 9 days preceding Christmas (the number representing the nine months of pregnancy that Mary carried Jesus). We celebrate this with friends and family to teach our children about the birth of Jesus and to incorporate an important Mexican cultural tradition into our Christmas. In this bilingual book, all of the important elements are clearly explained for kids with amazing illustrations for them to color:
Las Posadas try to represent or relive the pilgrimage of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem (Belén) while they’re trying to find a place to stay- with a celebration at the end when they finally find their lodging and Jesus is born.
In Mexico, it starts with a song, as a statue of Mary and Joseph parade through the neighborhood. In some cases, the procession is very elaborate with musicians, instruments, or even live animals. We went to a huge posada in Chicago one year with a donkey, cows, sheep, and goats- the kids were so interested in the animals they didn’t want the procession to end!
The children carrying the statues knock on (predetermined) doors, asking if they have any room in the inn in a simple, but eloquent song called “Pidiendo Posadas.” My kids love when I break down the Spanish lyrics and explain each line:
|En el nombre del cielo
os pido posada
pues no puede andar
mi esposa amada.
|In the name of Heaven
I beg you for lodging,
for my beloved wife
who cannot walk.
People (“innkeepers”) keep denying them a place to stay until finally the family who is hosting the posada allow the Holy Family to stay at with them. They open their house and offer food (tamales, mole, tacos) to all of the procession. The hosts also always serve the typical warm drink of ponche: a homemade punch of cinnamon, piloncillo (raw sugar), boiled with lots of fruit: tejocotes, guayabas, ciruela pasas (prunes), pasas (raisins), and tamarindo, using caña (sugar cane) to stir it. I tried to capture each detail to be represented in the mini-book!
The mood of the party is vibrant and exciting, and guests’ senses are stimulated by the smells of the delicious feast, the sounds of music, and all of the lights. While parents socialize, the children play with luces de bengala (sparklers) and other types of fireworks and then get to break the piñata that is filled with fruit like mandarinas, mini-jicamas, tejocotes, peanuts, and more sugar cane. Finally, the kids get a little basket with confitones (candied almonds), chocolate and other candy.
The kids LOVE it!!! Everyone is speaking Spanish, playing with each other, marveling at the rarity of the sparklers. Something we love about parties in Mexico is that families celebrate together: it’s not an adult party nor is it a kids party, it’s a family party. Las posadas begin with a religious reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s journey, and end in a fiesta with great food, lots of joking and talking, and families having fun together. This is what we hope to replicate when we make our own posada here in the US: learning about the story of Christmas, modeling warm hospitality, and spending time as a family while celebrating with our dearest friends.
In this bilingual Spanish-English minibook, kids will get a feeling for how Las Posadas is celebrated at Christmas in Mexico. It’s a great project for school or home use, and has beautiful, unique drawings for the kids to both color and add to. Las Posadas is a beautiful cultural tradition that is both unique and festive!
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If you are looking for some fun exercises to use to teach about Las Posadas alongside the bilingual Spanish-English minibook, check out this Las Posadas Bilingual Activity Pack! With background info and a book list, word wall words, a fill-in-the-blank exercise, a matching game, wordfind, and maze, as well as the minibook, it’s an excellent teaching resource inside and outside of the classroom. Check it out >
Las Posadas Activities in Spanish
This minibook is the Spanish Language version of our bilingual Las Posadas minibook. It has the same great drawings and storyline, except the text features only the Spanish language. Great for a Spanish immersion setting, a Spanish class, or as a way to expose kids to the Spanish language. Go now >
Christmas in Mexico