Las Posadas

The Christmas season in Guatemala translates to celebrations, parties, food and, of course, traditions. One of the Catholic celebrations that take place during the month of December is to participate in las posadas.

Las posadas are celebrated in different countries of Central America and Mexico, but in each place the celebration is different. In Guatemala, Las Posadas are a part of the heritage of Santo Hermano Pedro, who introduced the customs to the country – along with the nativity scenes – to remember the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where they looked for a place to stay and wait for the birth of Jesus.

Las Posadas (or posaditas) are small wooden platforms with the images of Mary and Joseph dressed as pilgrims. The adornments of the posada depend on the theme and the ingenuity of the person who makes it. Upon leaving the church or a house, the posaditas are accompanied by a group of people who illuminate the route with bright colored lanterns with glowing candles inside. Songs are sung and instruments are played – including maracas.

The posada is carried on the shoulders of the participants through various city streets, until it reaches the house that awaits its arrival, where it will stay until the next evening when it will make its journey to the next house. When the posada arrives at the selected house, those who accompany it will be divided into two groups: one group will enter the house and the other group will stay outside with the posada, at the door.

Both groups sing the litanies written especially for this celebration, where a resting place is requested and finally it is accepted. Upon entering the house, the posada is placed on an altar made by the family that receives it and a meal is served (usually paches, tamales, ham or chicken sandwiches which are accompanied by hot chocolate, coffee or punch).

Many of the posadas are organized by churches, and these are generally larger in size, however, in the colonies and neighborhoods of La Antigua, there are families who preserve the tradition of making their own Posadas and they are received in the homes of friends and others family members. The Posadas begin on December 16 go through December 24th.


Written by: Julissa Carillo

Translated by: Melissa Schroden

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