Culture

There’s No Mexican Christmas Without Posadas: We Rounded Up 11 Facts About Them That You Probably Never Knew About

For many Latinos, the word posada, evokes chilly nights surrounded by family and friends, singing, enjoying a warm meal (of tamales and ponche, of course), and spreading holiday cheer all around. If you have never been lucky enough to be invited to one of these celebrations, read on to find out a few facts that will explain what posadas are all about.

1. The word posada literally means ‘inn or lodging’, and traditionally posadas are a celebration of the Christmas story.

twitter @radiodelfin

Posadas involve a reenactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for a shelter where the Virgin Mary could safely give birth to Jesus in Bethlehem.

2. Posadas are a distinctly Mexican Catholic tradition, which is also celebrated all over Latin America and even across the world.

Instagram @latino_in_chicago

The tradition has spread to places like Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salavador, and many other Latin American countries, but it originated in Mexico as a Spanish celebration used by friars to convert indigenous people into Catholicism.

3. Posadas are a  celebration of the novenario before christmas.

twitter @dgcpopulares

‘Novenario’ means nine days, which means that posadas take place during the nine days before Christmas Eve. The none days running up to Christmas, represent the nine months of The Virgin Mary’s pregnancy. In Colombia, this period of time is called ‘La Novena’, and it‘s turned into a celebration similar to posadas but that in Colombia, Venezela and Ecuador is known as ‘La Novena de Aguinaldos’.

4. Posadas in Mexico began as a way for the Spaniards to teach native people about Christmas.

Instagram @gaby_hyuga

During the nine days leading up to Christmas Day, masses would include representations of Mary and Joseph. Following mass, there would be a party where people were blindfolded before hitting a piñata with a stick, a representation of faith defeating temptation with the help of virtue. The fruits and sweets that poured out of the piñata represented the joys of union with God.

5. At the beginning of a posada, people are divided in two groups, the ones “outside” representing Mary and Joseph, and the ones “inside” representing innkeepers.

Then everyone sings the posada litany together, re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s search, going back and forth until they are finally “admitted” to an inn. After this traditional part, the actual party starts. Posadas have spread to other countries — such as Guatemala, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela; and the celebrations vary by location.

6. Piñatas are a quintessential part of posadas.

Instagram @la_calaca_mexicana

Although they have mostly lost their original religious meaning, piñatas remain an essential part of las posadas. Mexico. Piñatas come in all shapes and sizes, but star shaped pinatas are the ones traditionally used in posadas. In fact, these star-shaped piñata’s 7 points represent the seven deadly sins. Most Mexicans are catholic and piñatas were a way to teach children about religion in a fun way. Piñatas represent being tempted by evil and the tradition of hitting them blindfolded symbolizes overcoming evil through blind faith.

7. Posadas are the occasion when moms and abuelas finally make the delicious ”Ponche Navideño” or Mexican Christmas Punch.

instagram @latino_in_chicago

A hot, flavorful drink that for many is synonymous with the holidays. Its ingredients vary from state to state, but it is traditionally prepared with tejocote (Mexican hawthorn), sugarcane, tamarind, apple, pear, guayaba, and cinnamon sticks. Some hosts will also offer their adult guests ponche con piquete – punch with a sting of alcohol, usually tequila or rum.

8. The posada litany is a traditional sung exchange that abuelas remember by heart and have passed down to younger generations since time immemorial.

Twitter @luissanchezal

The traditional song which both “sides” of the reenactment sing while holding candles asking for ‘posada’ goes a little like this: “Eeeen el nombre del cieeeelo, ooos pido posaaaada (note the emphasis on the vowels, if you grew up singing these, you’ll know), pueees no puede andaaar mi esposa amada” (In the name of God I ask you for shelter for my beloved wife can’t go on) begin the Joseph and Mary group: the inne keepers reply denying them entry.

9. At the end of the litany, when the innkeeper finally decides to give Mary and Joseph a place to stay; both parties celebrate.

instagram @excelsiormusica

As per tradition, the pilgrims carry colored candles and sparklers that symbolize the light that leads the way to the manger, and everyone gets to light sparklers in celebration at the end of the litany. After the litanies and the pilgrimage are over, everyone goes back to the house, where the real party starts.

10. The traditional “aguinaldo“ or ‘goodie bag’ that children get at Mexican birthday parties, originated from posadas.

Twitter @museoebc

So they say, that thanks to Friar, Diego de Soria, the first posadas were celebrated in colonial Mexico around the year 1587. Back then, they used to celebrate “misas de aguinaldo” (Christmas mass), which were called like that because on these masses they offered a gift or Christmas box to the kids; this consisted of fruits, candies or toys. On the posadas the “aguinaldo” is represented by snacks, and even up to this day, kids can still expect a little aguinaldo at the end of the party.

11. Posadas were a means to convert indigenous peoples to Christianity.

Instagram @gaby_hyuga

It’s said that posadas go all the way back to the time when the indigenous people celebrated during the winter or panquetzaliztli the advent of Huitzilopochtli, God of the War. For centuries, the Aztecs celebrated the birth of their god Huitzilopochtil around Christmas time. Huitzilopochtil was an important god of war who led the Aztec’s ancestors to the valley of mexico in what is now Mexico City.

Seeing the similarities between Christmas and Huitzilopochtil’s birth, Augustine priests were able to gradually convert the natives to Christianity. They realized that they couldn’t eradicate the holiday, but instead use it to gain new converts. This strategy also worked with Day of the Dead, as it was a former indigenous holiday turned catholic celebration coinciding with all saints day.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Here’s How You Can Make The Most Of A Virtual, Distanced Thanksgiving

Culture

Here’s How You Can Make The Most Of A Virtual, Distanced Thanksgiving

Solina Images / Getty Images

Thanksgiving this year is very different for families across the country. The standard family gatherings this year are giving way to safer distanced and virtual gatherings. Don’t worry. There are still ways to make this year’s Thanksgiving memorable.

This Thanksgiving is not going to be the same so make the most of it being virtual.

Credit: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving / Lee Mendelson Film Productions

This year has been a very different year. This means that the holiday season will not be the same as year past. Family gatherings are going remote and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging Americans to stay where they are through the holidays as Covid spreads in the country. Thankfully, we live in the 21st century and technology is here to bridge the physical gap this holiday season. Here’s how you can make the most of a safe and wise Thanksgiving gathering.

First, create a Zoom link and send it to everyone you want to have with you on Thanksgiving.

Credit: Global Citizen / Giphy

You are already on Zoom all day every day thanks to working from home. We have all become used to our human interaction coming from a computer screen these days. Why should the holidays be any different? After all, it is all about keeping everyone safe so that you can all enjoy a bigger, more wonderful holiday season next year.

Next, share the recipes with everyone so everyone can make the same meal at their homes.

Credit: Schitts Creek / CBC

This is a pretty easy one. All you have to do is get a menu together to share with everyone you’ve invited. This gives everyone a chance to eat the same meal and have the same experience no matter where they are. The CDC recommends that people only celebrate Thanksgiving with their household to try to stop the relentless spread of the virus. Make sure you include a timeline so people can time all of their work for the same time to eat at the same time. This is also the perfect time to finally get the recipe for that one dish that you’ve always wanted.

This also means beverages.

Credit: @accessonline / Giphy

No dinner gathering is complete without the beverages. So, if you are creating an special cocktails or seasonal drinks, include those in the recipe list. It’s not a party if people aren’t letting loose to feel the holiday spirit.

Make sure you remind everyone of the time to start. You know how our families are.

Credit: @latenightseth / Giphy

This one is serious. We all know that one person in the family that makes everything run late. Either they are late or don’t pay attention to things and end up making everything take so much longer. You might want to tell those who are always late that the gathering is earlier than it is so they are finally on time.

If you are meeting people for Thanksgiving, take all of the necessary precautions to stay safe.

Credit: Tacoma FD / TruTV

Some people just can’t help it and need to be around people for the holidays. If you do, there are things you can do to make sure that everyone is as safe as possible. Avoid being indoors for long periods of time. It is better to hang out outside. When inside you should wear a mask the entire time. For dinner, find a way to eat outside. If it is a warmer climate for you, have a nice picnic and with everyone. Create some space to keep everyone safe and you can still have a wonderful time.

We can do this if we do it together. Have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.

READ: Take A Tasting Tour Of Latin America This Thanksgiving With This Curated Menu

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Digital Posada Is All About Helping The LGBTQ Migrant Community, Who Face A Uniquely Challenging Reality

Things That Matter

This Digital Posada Is All About Helping The LGBTQ Migrant Community, Who Face A Uniquely Challenging Reality

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

With homosexuality still illegal in more than 60 countries around the world and attitudes towards transgendered people often even less welcoming, it’s obvious why so many people risk their lives to migrate to the United States.

However, that journey to a better life is often one of many dangerous hurdles and often times, once swept up in immigration proceedings, things don’t get much better.

LGBTQ detainees across the country have shared harrowing experiences of being mocked or tortured for their gender identity or sexual orientation. Many others have been sexually assaulted while in ICE custody or while waiting for their asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border. And transgendered and HIV-positive detainees have both been denied medically necessary healthcare that has posed a risk to their lives.

LGBTQ migrants have the same issues and problems to worry about that all other migrants face, however, the LGBTQ experience comes with several extra hurdles.

LGBTQ migrants coming to the U.S. face unique challenges that often put them at increased risk of violence.

Credit: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

Like so many others, LGBTQ migrants are often fleeing violence and persecution in their native countries. But despite often fleeing sexual violence and trans- and homophobia, so many migrants are sexually assaulted while in U.S. custody.

While just 0.14 percent of ICE detainees self-identified as LGBTQ in 2017, they reportedly accounted for 12 percent of sexual abuse and assault victims.

Based on a new report from the Center for American Progress, a public policy research and advocacy organization, LGBTQ migrants in federal detention centers are 97 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other detainees.

Studies show LGBTQ migrants are among the most vulnerable, more likely to be assaulted and killed, especially trans migrants. Of Central American LGBTQ migrants interviewed by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in 2017, 88 percent were victims of sexual and gender-based violence in their countries of origin; two-thirds suffered similar attacks in Mexico.

Human rights group allege that ICE fails to provide proper medical care to LGBTQ migrants – particularly trans and HIV-positive detainees.

Migrant advocacy groups and several lawmakers have demanded that ICE release all LGBTQ detainees and anyone with HIV in the agency’s custody, because the government has repeatedly failed to provide adequate medical and mental health care to them.

“We know that lack of medical and mental-health care, including lack of HIV care, is the norm,” Roger Coggan, director of legal services at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “By the Department of Homeland Security’s own count, 300 individuals identifying as transgender have been in custody and at the mercy of ICE since October of 2018.

For detainees with HIV, antiretroviral treatment is necessary to help kill and suppress the virus which ensures a healthy life but also reduces the risk of transmission to basically zero. Yet ICE is failing to provide this life-saving care.

Johana Medina Leon, a transgender woman who was detained at Otero and had tested positive for HIV, fell seriously ill and died at a hospital in nearby El Paso. Leon, 25, was the second trans woman to die in ICE custody in New Mexico in the past year. Roxsana Hernandez, 33, died in November 2018 after falling ill at the Cibola County Correctional Facility.

Meanwhile, Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy is presenting additional challenges to the LGBTQ community.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

While the Trump administration has severely limited asylum qualifications for Central Americans fleeing gang violence and domestic abuse, migrants can still request asylum based on persecution because of their gender identity and/or their sexual orientation. But their path is far from easy.

The administration continues to return LGBTQ migrants to Mexican border cities where they face assaults, kidnappings and death while they await U.S. court hearings.

“Here, the same as at home, the police discriminate against us,” Alejandro Perez told NBC News in early October. “We’re very vulnerable. I don’t feel safe here in Mexico.”

Border Patrol officials initially said “vulnerable” asylum seekers would be exempted from the Remain in Mexico program, including those who are LGBTQ, pregnant or disabled. But that hasn’t been the case.

Thankfully, the LGBTQ Center Orange County is working hard to protect and help the most vulnerable.

Southern California is home to the nation’s largest undocumented community, which means organizations like the LGBTQ Center Orange County have their work cut out for them. However, the center has proudly stood up to help in powerful and life-changing ways.

The LGBTQ Center OC is one of the leading migrant outreach centers in the region, attending numerous events throughout the year and providing outreach at the Mexican consulate in Santa Ana – each year reaching more than 5,000 people. The center also played a pivotal role in ending the partnership of Santa Ana Police and the Orange County Sheriff with ICE, bringing an end to ICE detention within the county.

As those migrants were detained at facilities outside the county – sometimes more than two hours away – the center mobilized volunteers to help stay in touch with detainees. This team helps provide much needed companionship through letters and notes, as well as providing legal representation and even cash payments that help detainees get everything from a filling meal to in-person visits.

And the work the center does is so important because it shouldn’t just be on detainees to speak out. All of us as part of the LGBTQ and migrant communities should support those in detention and speak out about the injustices they’re suffering in detention.

The Center is hosting a digital posada and you’re invited!

We all know the tradition of a posada. So many of us grew up with a holiday season full of them and although this year will look very different (thanks to Covid-19), the LGBTQ Center OC wants to keep the tradition and celebration alive.

Posadas commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph in search of a safe refuge, a sentiment that so many migrants and refugees in our communities can relate to. It’s with this spirit that the center is hosting it’s annual posada – but virtually.

The important event is free for all to attend but is a critical fundraising event that enables the center to do all that it does for the LGBTQ migrant community across Southern California. You can learn more and RSVP here but just know that it’s an event you do not want to miss.

Not only will you be able to virtually hang out with members of the community and leaders from the LGBTQ Center OC but there will also be a screening of the short documentary, Before & After Detention, a spirited round of lotería, raffle, and a live performance by the LGBTQ Mariachi Arcoíris de Los Angeles.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com