Photo: scaredy_kat, Flickr
The phrase "Las Posadas" translates to "the inns." It refers to the attempts of Mary and Joseph to find room at an inn for the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Each night, celebrants and musicians gather for candlelight processions, led by children dressed as the Holy Family and the Three Wise Men, and travel from home to home singing and requesting permission to enter until welcomed by an "innkeeper." At last, the food!
Among the essential dishes of holiday parties are ponche (punch), antojitos (snacks or appetizers), colaciones (light foods like sugar balls), pozole (hominy, pork and chile stew) and, of course, tamales, the ever-present Mexican holiday food. Ultimately, the foods and recipes are regionally dependent, as much of Mexican cuisine is. Zarela Martinez, matriarch of Mexican restaurants in New York and owner of Zarela, likes to serve pozole during Las Posadas. "It is easy to do and everyone loves it."
Central to Las Posadas is the piñata, usually filled with oranges, guavas, peanuts, sugar cane and assorted candies. Today, it is viewed as a party game, but it has religious and pre-Columbian roots. The piñata symbolizes the sweet hope and prize from the sky (i.e. the Aztec sun god/Christ) that falls when it is broken open with a stick.
Martinez says she will observe the holiday at Zarela. "We will have Posada specialties, particularly tostadas de tinga (shredded pork dish), tamales and pozole during one of the weekend menus." Remember, it's about the food.
Do you celebrate Las Posadas? Tell us about your party in the comments below.