In 1994, as a college student, I applied to obtain my non-identifying background information. (I am adopted, and had never known anything about my birth parents.) I wanted to know, among other things, my ethnicity.
I found out I was not Mexican. I had kind of suspected this, considering how much trouble I had had in high school Spanish class.
According to the paperwork, I am half Irish, a quarter Scottish, and a quarter German. This is a bit of a bummer, compared to being Mexican. Mexican food is WAY better than Irish food. Though I do like potatoes. And beer. And Irish pubs. And the color green. And leprechauns. But I digress. My original topic (unbeknownst to you) is Las Posadas.
Had I been Mexican, I would have found out about Las Posadas long before now. Well, maybe not, because Las Posadas isn't just Mexican, it's Catholic. And it took me a lot of years to get back around to my Catholic roots. (As it turns out, my one-hundred-percent Irish birth father was also Catholic.)
This year, I heard about Las Posadas three times! First, at a field trip with other Catholic homeschooling families. They were discussing Las Posadas and staging it at a farm so we could use live animals for the Nativity scene. They also mentioned having a LOT of Mexican food afterward and I wasn't sure how a live Nativity and homemade tamales all fit together.
Shortly after, I learned more in a catechist training session I attended at church. There, several actual Mexicans described how they celebrate Las Posadas. The picture was becoming clearer. Evidently, Las Posadas is a nine-day event, culminating on Christmas Eve, wherein groups of people (family, friends...) sort of reenact the events leading up to Jesus' birth. There will be a procession of some sort, and the visiting of several homes, each of which will turn away the "Mary" and "Joseph". But there is singing. And food. And prayer. And often a pinata. You can read about it from a more reliable source than an Irish/Scottish/German girl here.
The third time I heard about Las Posadas was the best time, because it was my friend Michelle inviting my family to join in her family's celebration of Las Posadas at her home. We did, and it was a great time. There was a procession. Singing. Children dressed as Mary, Joseph, an angel, and a shepherd. Knocking on doors and being turned away. Finally, a place to stay thanks to a kind innkeeper. And then we ate tamales! With some recognition for American diversity, and Michelle's own half-Mexican, half-Irish heritage - we also had chocolate martinis, a chocolate fountain, and a pinata shaped like a ghost (because Halloween pinatas are discounted in December!). It was a very fun evening, no less so because I'm not Mexican. I'm glad I have good friends who are!