24 December 2009

Las Posadas

We will get back to México City. There are a couple of other things I wish to show you from there, but they can wait until later.

Last evening I took in another great Christmas meal. Stephen, Allyson, and Frank laid out a spread in the little cabana on their roof commencing at 5:00.

Nothing extraordinary to report there. Just another extraordinary meal with good company.

During the evening as the dinner party progressed, the neighborhood folks were carrying on a posada in calle La Palma below. How do I explain a posada? Let me try.

Las Posadas literally means “the inns.” During the nine days preceding Christmas beginning on the 16th, these little gatherings occur in neighborhoods all around the city. It is a neighborhood thing. Las Posadas is a Latin American tradition with its origins in Spain. It is intended to commemorate the trials of Mary and Joseph as they searched for an inn in which to stay.

Groups of children wander through the street carrying candles, singing, and knocking on doors of homes. The people in the homes ceremoniously turn them away until finally they go to the door of the home designated for the little party that ends the evening. The party takes place in the street outside that home. Refreshments are distributed, and then the children get to take whacks at a piñata.

This is the best I could do in photographing the ragtag procession of children up and down La Palma from Stephen's roof. They had supplemented their candles with sparklers.

After the dinner party La Mexicana and I hit the street so that I could walk her home. The piñata part of the party in the street had started a few doors away. In her inimitable fashion, La Mexicana waded into the fray and started chatting up everyone around.

The piñata was suspended from the middle of a rope. One end of the rope was affixed to the second story of a building on one side of the street. The rope extended across the street to a second story balcony on the other side of the street. An older teenage boy on the balcony was jerking on that end of the rope making the piñata bob and weave above the children's heads as they took turns taking whacks at it. I hung back, the only gringo in sight. The piñata had not suffered much damage yet. The children were having difficulty busting up the thing.

Somebody passed the baton to La Mexicana. She took her whacks and did a decent job of hitting the thing after a couple of misses. Then, much to my amazement, one of the ladies brought the baton over to me. For a split second I considered graciously refusing. Instead, I waded in. The kid up on the balcony had fun with me. I completely missed it three times to everyone's delight. Then I got lucky and smashed it. Candy rained all over the place, and I just bent over and covered my head while a stampede of children rushed in around me screaming and picking up the candy.

A little old lady brought over two big bags of homemade candy, one for La Mexicana and one for me. Is it not odd that the poorest people in the world--poor as church mice--are the most generous, the most insistent on sharing what little they have? What is the deal with that?

It was a delight. I loved it. I felt like a hero. And for the first time in a long time, I got a Christmassy feeling inside.

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