This is the third night of this 9-day Christmas celebration. Children are chosen to play the roles of Mary, Joseph, angels, and shepherds, and at dusk they dress up and parade through streets, singing songs about needing shelter or lodging (posadas means “inns”). Adults follow with lighted candles.
At most of the neighborhood homes, the procession is turned away (in song), but at the neighborhood home that is hosting that night, the hosts sing a reply and then open their doors to the procession. Party food includes hot ponche, fried cookies called bunuelos, tamales, and so forth. Usually there is a pinata in the shape of a Christmas star as well.
This celebration originated in Spain and is practiced by some in other Latin American countries and communities, but it is most widespread in Mexico. There are of course lots of variations. One example is that, in some towns the child playing Mary rides a donkey or burro; in others, no one plays the part of Mary and Joseph, but instead adults carry large posters picturing them.
The song and some of its lyrics can be found here.
Lots of information and resources can be found here.
Make bunuelos using this recipe:
BUNUELOS DE PASCUA NAVIDENA
2-1/2 cups flour, sifted three timesDirections:
2 cups peeled and finely chopped pine nuts
4 spoons white sugar
2 spoons green lemon rind 1 spoon baking powder
4 fresh egg yolks
4 egg whites, beaten
plenty of frying oil
- Beat the yolks until they rise. Add the lemon rind, flour (previously sifted with the baking powder, mixing it with the egg whites and the pine nuts) a very thick paste must be formed. If the paste is loose, add some more flour.
- Pour plenty of oil in a pan and when it is hot, take spoons of the paste and fry them on low fire, covering them with oil so they rise.
- Drain the grease and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.
Here are more recipes for ponche, bunuelos, and tamales.
Make mini-pinatas using instructions found here.
Decorate with poinsettias! (Real, silk flowers, or paper handcrafts.)
This flower is one of the world's favorite Christmas imports from Mexico! Notice that the red “petals” are really leaves, and the small yellow “flower centers” are the actual flowers.
Here are some instructions for drawing poinsettias.