Las Posadas is a religious festival celebrated in Mexico, Latin America and the United States during the Advent season.
The Las Posadas tradition, which has been celebrated in Mexican culture for hundreds of years, is said to have begun when Spanish missionaries arrived in Mexico with a nine-day Christmas pageant. Spanish for “the inns,” Las Posadas commemorates Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and their search for lodging before Jesus’ birth. There was no room in any inn for the Holy Family, and Mary gave birth in a stable. We read in the account from the Gospel of Luke, “While they were [in Bethlehem], the time came for [Mary] to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6–7).
Don't wait! Download a printable village that children can decorate and assemble to reenact Mary and Joseph’s journey at home this year.
Las Posadas celebrations last for nine nights preceding Christmas, from December 16 to 24. On each night of the festival, parishioners or groups of family and friends gather together to reenact Mary and Joseph’s journey. During the Las Posadas tradition they progress to several homes (the posadas) each night asking for shelter, but are turned away at until the very last home.
Each of the nine nights begins with a children’s procession. Little ones dress up as figures from the Scripture account of Jesus’s birth: Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds, the three kings. Children are joined by adults and sometimes musicians and often carry candles or sparklers and a nativity. Though it can be simple or elaborate, the procession follows the same process each night: They sing villancicos, or Christmas carols, and process to the homes of friends and neighbors. At each posada, they ask for lodging but are sent away. Finally, at the last house, the procession is welcomed! Participants pray prayers of thanksgiving and have a fiesta, or party. They celebrate with feasting, traditional foods, and games.
A popular game on Las Posadas is the breaking of a piñata. The piñata is a decorated clay or Paper Mache container filled with candy. Typically designed in the shape of a seven-pointed star for the Las Posadas tradition, the piñata is suspended from a ceiling or another high place. Blindfolded, children take turns hitting the piñata with a stick until it breaks, and all hurry to gather up the sweets.
Gathering and social distancing restrictions this year may impact traditional Las Posadas celebrations. Our FREE printable activity can be used in a variety of ways, to compliment Advent and Christmas celebrations as you remember and recount the story of Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem and Jesus’ birth.
The posada on the last night of the festival, Christmas eve, is the most festive. This night also includes the midnight Christmas Mass, sometimes called la Misa de Gallo, or the Mass of the Rooster.
Gathering and social distancing restrictions this year may impact traditional Las Posadas celebrations. This printable activity can be used in a variety of ways, to compliment Advent and Christmas celebrations as you remember and recount the story of Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem and Jesus’ birth. It can be used by families at home or shared in a classroom or religious education setting.
Print (single sided) and share this activity with children. Invite them to decorate, then cut out and assemble the posadas, or little inns, following the instructions to fold and glue the seams.
Here are a few suggested ways to use this resource. Use as many or few as you wish!
Assemble the posadas and arrange a little village in a shared space, prayer space, or play space.
Invite children to use the posadas for their own re-enactment of Las Posadas anytime during the Advent or Christmas seasons.
On each night from December 16 to 24, gather around the completed village. Have the Holy Family figure “visit” each inn without success until the last one is reached. Sing and pray together.
Share traditional Las Posadas holiday refreshments together, such as punch, tamales, buñuelos, atole, and café de olla.
Incorporate costumes. Be creative with accessories found at home or in the classroom and dress like angels, shepherds, Mary and Joseph, or the three kings.
Have a virtual procession for Las Posadas by sharing this activity with friends or family members. Take turns each night “visiting” different homes by using a video chat or meeting platform. Pray, sing villancicos, and read the Scripture story of Jesus’ birth. Celebrate together on the last night by live streaming a midnight Mass.
Hang a piñata filled with sweets and take turns as a family or small group trying to break it open. Share the treats together.
Gather around the village and retell or read together from Scripture the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and Jesus’ birth in a stable.