During the nine days before Christmas—December 16-24—a beautiful custom called Las Posadas (“the inns”) commemorates the journey Joseph and Mary made from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a safe place to give birth to the baby Jesus.
The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles—women in love with the Gospel, called together by God to a communal life of prayer and service— explain the cherished Las Posadas Advent custom in this way:
“Las Posadas has a rich tradition originating in Spain and is a highly anticipated religious celebration in Mexican culture.
The traditional celebration of Posadas usually entails traveling to a different family’s house with the Peregrinos (“pilgrims”), Mary and Joseph, to knock on the door seeking shelter. When welcomed into the house where a place has been prepared for the Holy Family, the people pray together and then enjoy a meal.”
Below, a Laudato Si’ Action Platform participant graciously shares her Posadas reflection:
“The celebration of Posadas has been an essential part of Christmas since I was a child. This is a tradition we have carried on for many generations.
Las Posadas is the celebration of Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem, reaching its glorious fulfillment in the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. But this seems to be forgotten in our present day. Much of society has moved to thinking of Christmas as just a period for consuming. Posadas is a way of meditating on the real meaning of Christmas.
Joseph and Mary traveled their five-day journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem riding on a donkey. The three wise men traveled a great distance from their countries by camel. And Jesus himself was laid in a manger, a feeding trough for animals.
It is clear from the humble ways the Holy Family first celebrated the birth of Christ that Christmas is not a period for consuming. Instead, Christmas is a time to contemplate and emulate, in whatever ways that are meaningful to us, the sobriety and meekness of Joseph and Mary. Christ the King being welcomed so modestly into the world as a newborn baby is a powerful lesson for us all.
In commemoration of the Holy Family’s humility, there are many simple, sustainable, yet meaningful ways my family celebrates the Posadas and Christmas—and you can too—by:
- Preparing homemade meals with ingredients purchased from local farmers instead of using pre-packaged foods
- Avoiding the use of disposable plates or cutlery
- Avoiding single-use decorations and opting instead for decorations that can be used year after year
- Thinking of ways you can make your celebrations and family gatherings ever more sustainable by creating or updating your 2023 Laudato Si´Plan
‘Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’