When we began planning our five month stay in Mexico, we never could have imagined trying steamed cactus, shouting ¡Lotería! in front of a group of strangers, and reenacting Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem. However, through our classes at El Nopal Spanish Language School all of these experiences came together last night at their traditional Mexican Posada party. The celebration remembers the journey of Mary and Joseph and their attempt to find lodging (posada) on the eve of Jesus’s birth. Since receiving our invitation to El Nopal’s Posada a few weeks ago we had all been looking forward to experiencing this traditional Mexican Christmas party.
When the evening finally arrived, it was truly magical. The holiday itself is all about family, and we were impressed (as always) by how accommodating Juan and Marta are in meeting the needs of adults and children alike. The evening started with the kids having their own special holiday craft while the adults learned about the history of Las Posadas and played a few rounds of Lotería (Mexico’s version of Bingo).
Next up was dinner, and we were delighted to find vegan versions of some holiday favorites made especially for us. The corn tortillas were out of this world, and in addition to a bean filling we were able to sample some cooked nopal cactus (with the spikes removed, of course). The younger Fives especially enjoyed the traditional Christmas punch called ponche, steaming hot with pieces of fruit to dig out with a spoon.
After eating our fill of the delicious dishes everyone got a chance to reenact Mary and Joseph’s arrival at the inn by singing a traditional carol in Spanish. One group represented the innkeepers and the other group represented Mary and Joseph seeking posada (shelter). After the latter was able to secure some humble lodging, the kids were thrilled to find it was time for the piñata. While the Younger Fives were a bit more timid than their more experienced peers, they got some expert tips from Juan and each knocked a point off the piñata. When the piñata eventually revealed its contents, they excitedly snatched up their share of fruits such as oranges and pieces of sugar cane.
After all the excitement, the evening ended on a more calm and peaceful note. We all sat around a table on the darkened patio of the El Nopal campus and sang more traditional carols with candles in hand. Singing Noche de Paz (Silent Night) in the City of Peace itself (La Paz) made for a perfect end to a magical evening that we could not have experienced anywhere else.
Learn more about Las Posadas by watching the video below.