Posadas in Puerto Vallarta consist of businesses honoring their employees one day of the year with a festive party and traditional food, along with North American potluck dishes in many cases. There is gift giving, sometimes what we refer to as White Elephant and at some posadas, well-thought presents of gratitude and friendship. Aguinaldos (Christmas bonuses) may also be given at this time but many choose to present them in November, therefore giving families a chance to prepare for the holidays.
To witness a real posada, which translates as inn, one might need to venture out to small colonias in the surrounding area of Puerto Vallarta. There, one will find families and children marching in processions through the streets, carrying lit candles, figures from the nativity, and singing songs. Often, children will represent Joseph and his heavily pregnant wife, and a little girl, dressed in the recognizable sky blue, might be riding on a donkey. It isn’t unusual to see these groups knocking on doors only to be turned away, representing the night Mary and Joseph wandered through Bethlehem, looking for a spare room and ended up in a tiny barn with the cattle. So the story goes; and it is reenacted all over Mexico from December 16th until the 24th, when the final posada finds the Holy Family a place for Mary to give birth to the Christ child. In the meantime, each night will end with a fiesta in one of the neighborhood homes, complete with games, traditional food and sometimes fireworks. Guests will leave with a traditional aguinaldo, usually a small bag with sweets, cookies, and fruit.
A piñata is often present and customarily in the shape of a seven pointed star, which represents the Seven Deadly Sins. Once it is bashed to smithereens and candy and toys fall to the ground, the children scramble to collect as many as they can. The symbolism in this playful game is typically Mexican, rife with religious connotations, both Catholic and Aztec.
Mexicans love any excuse to prepare loads of delicious foods and sharing it results in great pleasure for cooks and consumers. Tamales are made in advance, usually with a gathering of women who have the chance to gossip, chat and giggle. Buñuelos, a deep fried dough ball, are also served, sometimes with fruit toppings, powdered sugar or chocolate sauces. Fruits are abundant for the holiday meals, including oranges, prunes and plums, guava and tejocote, a hawthorn that is also used in Christmas ponche. The ponche is served to the children and
adults usually drink it with rum or tequila added. Atole is also served, a corn based drink, flavored with cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate or a variety of fruits.
The final posada is of course, Noche Buena, Christmas Eve, and the evening is highly anticipated by children, who after attending a midnight mass, are allowed to open presents. Christmas Day in Mexico is a day of rest and recovery, consuming the leftovers from the night before.
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Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article!
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