Las Posadas commemorates Mary and Joseph's search for lodging during their long journey to Bethlehem. The word posadas means "inn" in Spanish. Every Christmas, Hispanic cultures celebrate this feast with a procession through the city streets. Along the way, participants sing carols and stop at preselected houses to celebrate the feast. Teach children about Las Posadas and anticipate the Christmas season with simple crafts for the home or classroom.
About Las Posadas
Teach children about the rich history of the Las Posadas tradition before you do crafts and other activities. Las Posadas is usually celebrated for eight nights and ends on Christmas Eve, when it is followed by Midnight Mass. The procession is led by an angel and sometimes includes actors who play Mary and Joseph. The tradition has been around since the 1500s. It was originally intended as a novena, or nine days of prayer. The nine days commemorate each of the nine months that Mary carried Jesus in her womb.
Members of the Las Posadas procession carry candles. Children can make their own Las Posadas candles with easy crafting techniques. For a flame-free candle craft for young children, have the children cover an empty toilet paper roll with colorful paper to make a candlestick. Tape the candlestick to a jar lid and decorate the lid with holly or pine. Make a flame template for the children to trace and cut out of yellow construction paper to tape or insert into the top of the candlestick. Older children can decorate jars for votive candles to carry with them during the procession.
Traditionally, Las Posadas concludes with the breaking of a star-shaped pinata. In fact, according to the book "Hecho en Tejas: Texas-Mexican Folk Arts and Crafts" by Joe S. Graham, Las Posadas may actually be the origin of the pinata. Making an actual Las Posadas pinata is probably too difficult and time-consuming for most children, but kids can easily make their own miniature decorative pinatas out of styrofoam egg cartons, tissue paper and decorative materials like felt and glitter pens, rick rack, and glitter glue.
Baby Jesus Manger
Mary and Joseph complete their journey by finding a stable with a manger for baby Jesus. Have each child make their own miniature manger for the Christ child with simple materials. Cut an empty toilet paper roll in half and glue the sides back-to-back to make the manger. On each of the nine days of Las Posadas, let the children place a piece of yellow yarn in the manger for each good deed they do. Make baby Jesus by drawing a face with permanent marker on one end of an unshelled peanut. Wrap the other end with cotton and glue. At the end of Las Posadas, the children can place baby Jesus in the manger they have prepared.