A Different Christmas

Danilea Salinas, Editor

Adrenaline shoots through the bodies of millions of kids in America the morning of December 25th. Rushing to wake their sleep-deprived parents from their beds to see what presents Santa left the night before. After the hectic morning of torn Christmas wrapping and marveling at the new gifts, a dinner with family and friends awaits at the end of the day. This is what Christmas looks like to most in America. But for many the celebration of Christmas starts the night before.

The posada is a major part of Latino Christmas traditions. From the dates of December 16th to the 24th, a religious festival called the “posada” is celebrated in select parts of the United States and Mexico. Children dress in costumes and reenact the journey of Mary and Joseph to find a space for the birth of Jesus on the streets. The procession goes from door to door asking for lodging, stopping along the way to read parts of the Bible scripture. After each day, a mass is held and children break open candy-filled pinatas. On the last day of the posadas, a predetermined house agrees to let “Mary” and “Joseph” into their house, beginning the festivities. 

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The nativity set is a major part of the posadas. As each posada is enacted, the nativity set adds additional characters to represent the events of the 24th. An empty hay baby basket is finally filled during the last posada where the baby Jesus is born. These nativity scenes can be seen in public areas, outside of churches, and in the homes of many.

Nochebuena or “the goodnight” is the night before Christmas day. Catholicism, which was brought by Spanish colonizers in the 1400s, plays a major role in the celebration on the 24th. The night begins with a mass in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. At the stroke of midnight, presents are opened to honor the birth of Jesus Christ who is believed to have been born at this time. From there, the night erupts in parties and food is shared with family and friends. This generally includes tamales, pozole, and bacalao or salt cod. Dessert is a comforting champurrado and flan.

Christmas day for many Latino families, unlike their American counterparts, is largely mundane. Slowly dragging sleep-deprived bodies out of bed and to the living room table has proven to be a challenge. Recovering from the festivities of the night before is usually the first priority. 

Holiday traditions vary vastly around the world. Christmas is a holiday filled with joy, festivities, and family. The celebration of different holidays and traditions is what makes cultures unique. Although one thing stays constant: the joy of the holidays. Happy holidays!