When out on the street there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, Gave luster to mid days objects below……. Well, I really was just about to nod off to the land of Link’n, Blink’n, and Nod, and there WAS such a clatter, but here in Puerto Vallarta….no snow. The reflection of the moon, though, was definitely dancing on the shimmering Bay of Banderas, illuminating the entire town as if it WERE mid day. It really WAS a few strokes before midnight and I DID rise to the sound a chorus, not “clatter“. The “objects” below, as viewed from my balcony, were five hundred carolers strong. I was serenaded by a wonderfully harmonious blend of children, mothers and fathers, all backed up by a seven piece mariachi style band. As the melodic procession passed, all were walking in unison, laden with candles that cast a peaceful warm glow upon each and every face. The pageant, complete with floats, wound its way along the coast line to the town square where a welcoming crowd numbering the thousands awaited them with the same warmth in return. It was the Posada season, and this was the “grand daddy of all Posadas. The “procession” of the Posada has been a tradition in Mexico for 400 years. While its roots are in Catholicism, even Protestant Latinos, and in general all of Mexico, follow the tradition. It may have been started by early friars who combined Spanish Catholicism with the December Aztec celebration of the birth of Huitzilopochtli. Traditionally, each family in a neighborhood will schedule a night for the Posada to be held at their home, starting on the 16th of December and culminating on the 24th. Every home, complete with a nativity scene, hosts the acting out of the Christmas Story of Mary and Joseph in search of lodging. The neighborhood children and adults go house to house singing traditional songs, carrying candles and statuettes of Joseph leading a donkey, on which Mary is riding. As in the original story, the residents respond by refusing lodging, until the weary travelers reach the designated site for the party. Mary and Joseph are finally recognized and allowed to enter, allowing the procession to gather and kneel around the Nativity scene to pray. At the end of each night’s journey, all sing Christmas carols, children break open star-shaped piñatas, finding candy and fruit hidden inside, and the finale consists of a feast that leaves no one under fed. This tradition continues, unchanged through out the years, and remains a mainstay in the Latin culture. The inherent message, no matter your belief, contains a beauty that is woven within its fabric that transcends all people….and was a joy to witness firsthand.
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