Saturday, December 02, 2006


December of 1996 found us preparing for our first Christmas in a new home. Initially, I did not plan to "adopt a country" for Christmas as we had done with Sweden the following year. However, at some point in the year, the girls asked me which country we were learning about this year. How do you say no to children asking to learn?

I decided on Mexico, knowing that a pinata would be a fun addition to what proved to be a quiet Christmas, now that we lived far from all of our relatives. I found some children's Christmas books set in Mexico and we dived in. We read Tomie dePaola's The Legend of the Pointsettia and Nine Days to Christmas (A Story of Mexico.) My mom began to sew some little tiered skirts of Christmas fabric for the girls, and I hastily put together a costume for a brown-haired, brown-eyed doll.

The girls were excited to have a yellow star-shaped pinata like little Ceci in Nine Days to Christmas. They loved the story of Ceci's first "Posada." I especially like this passage that describes Ceci's trip to the market place with her mother to purchase her pinata:

"As they entered the Christmastime market Ceci stopped still. Fairies and goblins must have been here in the night, she thought. How else could it be so beautiful! There were candies and toys and sparklers and painted clay figurse of Joseph and Mary and the donkey, and little lambs and cows. But Ceci didn't look long at these, for on ahead, swinging and turning in the wind, were the pinatas."

Though the term "Posada" apparently means Inn in Spanish, the tradition of Posada means much more. December 16th, nine days before Christmas, the celebration begins, commemorating the journey of Joseph and Mary before the birth of Christ. A procession forms, led by those who carry the nativity scene. The people carry lighted candles, or gifts for the Christ child, and sing the song of the Holy Pilgrims. The worshippers are "refused lodging" at the first two inns, but offered welcome at the third. Here the celebrants enter, to feast, to break open a pinata filled with toys and sweets, and to share the joy of the season with family and friends.

Celebrations really aren't that different in other cultures, are they? The difference is in the details, but the joy of spending time with loved ones, sharing food and drink, raising voices in song and laughter... those are common threads that tie people together all over the world.
photos by Aisling, November 2006


Nan said...

Your description reminds me of a section of Tomie DePaola's new book, Christmas Remembered, when he spends a Christmas in New Mexico. The townspeople act this out on an evening walk. You would love this book, and it is worth buying in HC!

Aisling said...

Nan, This procession is also described in his book the Legend of the Pointsettia, which I mention in my post here. The paraprofessional for the library in which I volunteer recently went to his book signing, I believe for the book you mentioned. It does sound like something I would really enjoy reading. Thank you for mentioning it!

Nan said...

There is a Merriam Webster site which has audio for word pronunciation, and the "ia" is pronounced, in case you were wondering. Tom's school had a fundraising poinsettia sale, and he heard a few folks say just "a", without the "i", but ol' MW says otherwise. :<)