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Catholic Activity: Las Posadas I

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The nine days before the feast of Christmas have a very special character in many Latin and Latin-American countries. Each evening the parish or neighborhood group meets together and, bearing statues of Mary and Joseph, the people proceed through the streets with their pastor at the head. Stopping at all the "inns" (homes and even shops), they ask for admittance. Each night they are refused until, on Christmas Eve, they are allowed to enter the last inn (the Church, in some sections) where the crib has been prepared. With great rejoicing the Child is laid in the manger. The Las Posadas, as it is called, is a custom easily adapted to the family.

DIRECTIONS

On Christmas Eve the family gathers — perhaps before dinner if the family wants to enthrone the Christ-Child in the crib later on in the evening — and two of the children carry the crib statues of Mary and Joseph. As the family follows, the children walk from room to room, knocking at each door, and at each they are told by some member of the family stationed within the closed room that there is "no room in the inn." At last the procession reaches the living room, where it is allowed to enter and the children place Mary and Joseph in the stable.

Where two or three families who are trying to live with the Church are close by, this beautiful custom is worked out in a more dramatic way. As soon as it is dusk, one couple or a boy and girl of high school age dress as Mary and Joseph. Carrying lanterns, they lead the procession from house to house, knocking on each door and inquiring for room. The same answer is heard, "No room in the inn." At the last "inn" the innkeeper offers his stable (the garage) to the holy couple, and the procession follows Mary and Joseph to the door. Joseph enters, sees that there is straw and a manger, and beckons Mary to come. Before the "live" Bethlehem scene, all stand while one person reads the Gospel from the Midnight Mass. Children especially enjoy this "journey to Bethlehem" — and as they are rejected from the many inns, they sense the hardships Mary and Joseph underwent in that first journey — and in the stable they feel the nearness of the Child who is born poor to make us rich.

Activity Source: Twelve Days of Christmas, The by Elsa Chaney, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1955

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