I experienced a variety of different traditions in preparation for Christmas in Mexico. One of these beautiful Christmas traditions was the Posadas, (inns). The tradition involves families with children dressed as shepherds in a procession singing songs re-enacting Mary and Joseph's search for a place to stay in Bethlehem. They take place for nine nights leading up to Christmas Eve.
Another traditional celebration is la Buena Noche (Christmas Eve). Families celebrate by gathering together, adoring the baby Jesus and singing traditional songs. The celebration continues with food like tamales, buñuelos, drinks of atole and rompope. The preparation for these traditional events is as important as the actual events. All family members participate, work and spend time together. The focus is sharing with others and celebrating the birth of el Niño Jesus (the child Jesus)….all are welcome.
I experienced this “welcome” through a new friend I made in San Miguel, Paula. She can be found sitting on a step around the central streets of San Miguel with her hand out for money. Paula is widowed, elderly, and can no longer work because of her aging body. She had 14 children and still has two at home in the campo (the country) she is supporting. The money she receives supports her son in school and her daughter who cares for the house and her brother. The last time I ran into Paula, she told me she would be with her family for la Buena Noche and had sent money to her children so they could make preparations. She shared how God was good and always provided for her family. Paula invited me to come spend la Buena Noche with her family. It would not be elaborate but they would sing to el Niño Jesus and have enough food for me to join them.
Paula knows the meaning of Christmas and understands the words the Angel of the Lord spoke to the shepherds so many years ago, “I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you.” Paula has caused me to reflect on coming of el Niño Jesus and what it means he was born for me and how I am called to live my life.
What has caused you to reflect on the little child Jesus? What does it mean that he was born for you?
Priscilla Torres, OP
back in Jacksonville, FL