CHEROKEE COUNTY — It's a centuries-old tradition, based on the scripture story of Mary's and Joseph's search for lodging in Bethlehem.
But for Claudia Meaux, whose earliest memories of las posadas reach back to her days as a schoolgirl attending the Instituto América in Chihuahua, Mexico, the Advent tradition is a way to help keep her Christian faith and Mexican culture alive.
“The posadas are something you grow up with; it’s a part of who you are, and as a Mexican, as a Hispanic, there’s a natural progression” in wanting to share the tradition with your children, Meaux said. “It’s a part of our culture, of who we are (as Hispanics and as Christians), and (she and husband, Mike) want our daughters to be proud of that.”
The posadas are an instrument to share Christian faith, much like the story of the nativity or incorporating an Advent wreath in their home prayer life, she added.
“Because if we don’t do this now when they’re little, how can we expect them to respect the teachings (of our faith) when they’re older?” Meaux asked.
Las posadas – literally “the inns” – are held Dec. 16 through 24 in homes and churches throughout the United States and Mexico, rooted in a 16th-century Mexican tradition developed by Spanish missionaries to share the Christmas story to indigenous people.
Incorporating song and prayer, pilgrims – “peregrinos” – travel with the Holy Couple, who are seeking shelter and anticipating the imminent birth of the Christ child. Along the way, they experience the rejection that María y José are subjected to by inn-keepers who aren't very welcoming.
“Welcoming the stranger that comes to our door is always important in many cultures (because it shows) that hospitality is more than just being kind,” said Father Mark Kusmirek, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, which incorporated the tradition two decades ago. “The posadas are a good way to keep to the forefront of our minds that it's not just 'me and Jesus,' it's 'us and Jesus.'”