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Celebrate Advent a la Mexicana with Las Posadas

Wednesday, December 09, 2015 by Katy Walter Lichon, Ph.D.

LasPosadasBlogPhoto credit: Barbara Johnston, University of Notre Dame

Are you are looking for ideas on how your school can be culturally responsive and sustaining for Mexican-American students this Advent? You may want to consider celebrating Las Posadas. This interactive and vibrant tradition of seeking posada, Spanish for accommodation or an inn, is more than four hundred years old and provides students a rich experience in which to engage their faith.

Our team in ACE’s English as a New Language Program have compiled what we hope will be helpful resources for teachers, leaders, and students to better understand the celebration of Las Posadas and incorporate it into your school’s holiday celebrations.

But first, here’s a quick overview.

LAS POSADAS AT A GLANCE

Las Posadas is a nine day celebration beginning December 16th and ending December 24th (Noche Buena) that commemorates Mary’s nine months of carrying Jesus in the womb. The Las Posadas processions typically include two individuals dressed up as María and José, along with a crowd of angels, shepherds, wise men, pilgrims carrying poinsettias, and musicians.

Each night during the celebration, the gathered crowd carries candles and processes to a predetermined home or “inn” in the community, while singing La Canción Para Pedir Posada, an interactive song of begging for shelter. The verses are sung alternately by the crowd outside and the family inside. Once the “innkeepers” welcome the traveling family, they recite a rosary around a nativity scene, enjoy a meal, and break open star-shaped piñatas representing the star of Bethlehem.

As you can imagine, converting the Las Posadas tradition into a meaningful lesson or unit for your students can take place in many shapes and forms. We hope that by providing some of the following resources, we can help draw attention to our students’ journey to find room for Jesus at Christmas, as well as help them participate in and honor the rich tradition of our Latino students.

Here are a few resources that will help you better understand the celebration of Las Posadas and incorporate it into your instruction.

  1. Start by introducing Las Posadas to your students. This short and lively video explains the tradition of Las Posadas.

  2. Learn how to celebrate Las Posadas with the help of this short guide for lay leaders, musicians, and clergy. La Canción para Pedir Posada is central to any posadas celebration. This article provides the lyrics in both Spanish and English, and this video provides the music, as well as the lyrics.

  3. Incorporating the posadas traditions into your classroom instruction is a great way to engage students in this rich cultural tradition. Explore one of these lesson plans for use in your class, as well as this unit on piñatas.

  4. For a more in-depth look at Las Posadas, here are some great books to read in class: The Night of Las Posadas, Uno, Dos, Tres, Posada!, and The Legend of the Poinsettias (a video reading of the text).

  5. Get hands on! Check out these fun and easy craft ideas, including painting poinsettias, creating poinsettia ornaments, and a piñata coloring page.

  6. Since no celebration is complete without food, watch this video to learn more about some of the traditional foods that are prepared and served during Las Posadas, and check out this recipe for buñuelos.

 

Have some ideas of your own? We’d love to hear other ways your Catholic schools celebrate Las Posadas in the comments below.

Want to learn more about culturally sustaining pedagogy? Apply to the ENL Program today.

About the Author

Katy Walter Lichon, Ph.D.

Katy Walter Lichon, Ph.D.

Katy Walter Lichon serves as the Director for the English as a New Language (ENL) Program and is a faculty member with ACE Teaching Fellows. Lichon received her B.B.A. in marketing and management from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, her M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana, and her Ph.D. in educational philosophy from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Lichon has taught in Atlanta, Chicago, and Santiago, Chile. She is passionate about linguistics, language acquisition, the role of maternal speech, and ensuring that English language learners thrive in our Catholic schools. Lichon has also helped to begin the two-way immersion program at Holy Cross School in South Bend, Indiana. She believes that educators are pivotal in forming a school environment where ELLs and their families are honored as assets in the school community. She resides in South Bend with her husband and three-year-old little girl.