Growing up in Veracruz, Mexico, the month of December was a very festive time of year for Reyna and Maritza. Not only was it a time of religious traditions, but a season surrounded by friends, family, and delicious foods and drinks. In Mexico, the holiday season includes several traditions, one of which we want to share with Austin this year. On December 21, the night of the winter solstice, we will celebrate the tradition of Las Posadas at Radio Coffee and Beer and we hope all of our family, friends, and customers will come enjoy a night of delicious treats, live music, and colorful decorations.
Las Posadas are traditionally celebrated in Mexico beginning on December 16 and ending on December 24; nine nights of traditions and parties representing the nine months of pregnancy of the Virgin Mary. The Spanish word posada translates to accommodation or lodging in English, alluding specifically to the Christian belief of the nativity. During each night of Las Posadas a group visits a home, or several homes. Two individuals in the group dress up as Mary and Joseph, and when the procession arrives on the doorstep they seek entrance, just as Mary and Joseph sought a place to give birth to Jesus in the nativity story. The residents of the home, representing inn-keepers, allow the procession to enter after singing songs, and once the procession has entered there is a celebration, which includes singing villancicos (Christmas carols), piñatas, and food.
Like many holidays we celebrate today, Las Posadas have their roots in more ancient traditions which have been merged together with Christian beliefs. In pre-Hispanic Mexico the native peoples celebrated two very important gods. On the winter solstice, Tonantzin Guadalupe, the mother of all gods, was celebrated, and continues to be celebrated today on December 12. Additionally, the sun god Huitzilopochtli was believed to be born during the month of December by the native peoples. As Spanish missionaries arrived in the Americas they used Las Posadas as a way to teach the native peoples the story of the birth of Jesus.
Today there are many parts to Las Posadas that have specific meanings. The poinsettia, a beautiful red flower native to Mexico, was called cuetlaxochitl in the pre-Hispanic period, and to the native peoples was a symbol of new life. They believed that fallen warriors returned as hummingbirds to drink the nectar of the poinsettia. The post-Hispanic belief is that the poinsettia was once a weed that turned into a flower suitable of a gift to the baby Jesus from a child. In Mexico the poinsettia is called la noche buena, or the good night, referring to Christmas Eve.
The tradition of the piñata also has its roots in Spanish proselytizing among the native peoples of America. It was a way for the missionaries to teach Christian beliefs in a non-literature way. The piñata represented Satan, adorned and decorated to deceive people, and holding within the treasures of the world. A traditional piñata hung during Las Posadas has seven points which represent the seven cardinal sins, and the stick used to break open the piñata represents the faith a Christian needs to overcome the temptations of Satan. Reyna and Maritza also tell me that the seven points on the pinata makes a star shape representing the star of Bethlehem which is believed by Christians to have led the wisemen to find Jesus.
There are a few traditional foods and drinks that are served during Las Posadas celebrations, two of which are ponche and buñuelos. Ponche is a hot drink made with seasonal fruits from Mexico, cooked with piloncillo (whole cane sugar) and spices including cinnamon, and commonly enjoyed with a shot of alcohol by adults. The buñuelo is a fried dough ball (also served in a disc shape) which is covered with piloncillo, cinnamon, and guava syrup.
So, we are taking some of our favorite posada traditions and making a night out of it, and although Las Posadas are a religious tradition, our festivities at Radio Coffee and Beer will be agnostastic as to allow all of our friends to enjoy our culture, no matter what your background. In addition to our normal food truck menu, we will be serving ponche and buñuelos, and a percentage of those sales will go to La Casa Marianella. Our decorations for the night will be beautiful poinsettias and piñatas, and our favorite local Latin band Cien Fuegos will be playing music for all to enjoy.
Visit our Facebook event page HERE for more party details.