Christmas posadas – or posada navideñas, as they’re called in Spanish – are an awesome way to get into the Christmas spirit. But that’s not it, they’re also great to get in touch with a new culture and learn Spanish.
Let’s be honest here, this is amazing news! Because sometimes if the way we teach a second language isn’t interesting enough, kids will get bored. This will make them not want to study or maybe they’ll learn but will hate the language. We don’t want that! We want children to love Spanish and understand its importance.
What’s more magical than learning Spanish through Christmas? Kids love the season, and it won’t even feel like study time. So, here’s how to throw your own posada navideña. Just in case you want your kids to learn through speaking with their Hispanic neighbors, interacting with family and celebrating the holidays.
What’s a Posada Navideña
First, let us tell you a bit about what’s a posada navideña. A posada is a party representative of Mexico to celebrate Christmas. Posadas start nine days before Christmas, so they go from December 16th to December 24th.
People invite their friends, colleagues and sometimes even neighbors. They have the traditional “ponche”, pinatas, delicious meals representative of the holidays and more. Some companies even throw their own posadas for all their employees.
But posadas have a history and go way back to the Aztecs. In those days, people used to celebrate the arrival of their god, Huitzilopochtli. These celebrations were held in December for twenty days. Then, everything changed with the Spanish conquest.
The meaning of these parties were now changed towards the catholic religion and were called “misas de aguinaldo”. These were masses made to commemorate the nine-day walk that Maria and Jose made from Nazareth to Belen. All while Maria was pregnant with baby Jesus and how they had to take refuge in a barn to give birth.
People now would celebrate the “misas de aguinaldo” from the 16th to the 24th. There would be representations of these catholic event. But the main objective of this was the evangelization of Aztecs.
Little by little, these celebrations suffered changes or additions until they became what we now know as posadas. Though they still have a catholic meaning for some, others just celebrate these to enter the holiday spirit, have fun and interact with others.
We must clarify that posadas are also celebrated in other countries. Like Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and more.
How to Plan Your Posada
Pick a place
Posadas can be done basically anywhere you can. Just think about how many invites you want to have and pick a place based on that. So, if you won’t have too many guests, maybe it can be at your house.
As we told you, some companies even organize their own posadas. And if the place is big enough, they’ll have them right there at their headquarters. The same happens with schools. Sometimes they organize posadas and invite all the students. They make them in their school yard.
So, as you can see, you don’t have to overthink this, just make sure it’s a safe place for everyone and there’s enough space. Oh and it’s better if there’s a yard or garden, even if it’s not too big, because there’s going to be a “piñata”.
Posadas are for everyone. You can invite every single person that you and your kids like. That means family, friends, coworkers and classmates and even neighbors. That’s right, some people love to throw huge posadas and so they invite their neighbors as well. The more the merrier.
So, if you have any Hispanic neighbors, don’t lose the opportunity to invite them and maybe even ask them if they celebrate posadas and if they could help you. You might get some good ideas from them.
Since this posada is especially for your children, don’t forget to ask their friends. We suggest especially inviting their classmates and friends from their Spanish classes. They’ll have fun and keep learning together.
Posadas are full of delicious dishes traditional for the holiday season. In Mexico it’s common to see “romeritos con mole” (little rosemary with mole), apple and marshmallow salad, turkey, “buñuelos” and codfish in the Christmas dinner. So, it’s not a surprise you also find these holiday dishes in the posadas navideñas.
But there can also be other Mexican food that’s not necessarily traditional at Christmas time, like tamales, “tostadas” and “pozole”.
Of course, this just in terms of what concerns Mexico, each country will have variations depending on which are their traditional dishes.
Since you’re organizing a posada to immerse your kids and everyone else in the Spanish language, we recommend you prepare Hispanic dishes. We even have a recipe for making tamales with the help of your kids.
Encouraging them to help you it’s a great way to start teaching them Spanish from the process of making the posada, not just during the celebration.
If you want to make an even more Spanish diverse posada, you can prepare dishes from different Spanish-speaking countries. Like a “dulce de leche” from Argentina, “arepas” from Colombia, the classic Arabic rice they prepare in Peru and the “turrón” from Spain.
Even better, if you have Hispanic friends and neighbors, ask them to bring something traditional from their country. This is actually something common in posadas, people bring one dish to the celebration. So together they all form the dinner.
And yes, it’s a huge dinner, because there’s usually a lot of people and so everyone can eat portions from all the different foods.
Don’t forget about the beverages. What you can’t miss is the “ponche” (fruit punch). That’s the most important beverage, because it’s a classic for this season and kids can drink it. Sometimes there’s also cider or champagne to make a toast. But if you’re going to bring alcohol, we recommend putting it away from kids, maybe in high furniture.
Another drink you can have that both adults and kids love is hot cocoa. You can’t lose with that one!
Make sure you decorate the place with a Christmassy mood. So, put on colorful lights and big posters or pictures of Santa, candy cane, the nutcracker or anything related to the season. You can also decorate the food tables with a Christmas tablecloth.
And if you don’t have a huge tree, you could decorate a small one and put it at the center of the table. Honestly, you can do whatever you want! There are no rules for this step… well maybe just one: don’t forget to hang the pinata!
In posadas you can invite people as you want, by voice, by email, by letters… Inviting people is very important, but the format of the invitations is not. Do as you wish. But to get into the Spanish spirit in which you’re basing your posada, we recommend writing the invitations in Spanish!
Here’s why that’s a great idea. Your guests will notice that Spanish will be very important for this posada. So they can start preparing to hear the language and use it. And if your guests are Hispanic, they’ll probably won’t want to miss it.
You can even add a sentence asking your Hispanic guests to speak Spanish during the whole celebration. So kids will hear them and feel encouraged to also speak in that language. It’ll also be a good exercise for the non-Spanish speaking guests; they’ll start training their ears.
Most importantly, your children can help you write the invitations, so they’ll practice their Spanish writing.
Activities to Do at Your Posada
Posadas are not just about eating. There are certain activities held during the celebration.
Time to “pedir posada”
At some point in the posadas, people do a representation of the pilgrimage of Maria and Jose. And how they asked door by the door for a place to stay; this is what is called “pedir posada”. It makes sense because “posada” is not just the name of this Christmas celebration, but also a Spanish word for “inn”.
But how do you ask for “posada”? Just divide the people in two groups. First, the ones that are going to stay in the house. Second, the ones that are going to ask for “posada”, who are called the peregrines.
You can make these groups as you wish. Maybe the adults are going to be the ones to stay in the house and the kids, accompanied by one adult, can be the peregrines.
The peregrines will knock on the door and the ones inside will open. Then everyone will have to sing a special litany for this occasion. The song represents the journey of Maria and Jose, especially how they asked for a place to stay.
Some parts of the song are for the peregrines to sing and others are for the people inside their house. At one point, the ones inside will sing the second part of the song, which reads “entren santos peregrinos, peregrinos reciban este rincón…”.
While they do it, they’ll open the door for everyone to get inside. After finishing singing, the ones inside will invite the peregrines to eat dinner together and celebrate the posada.
After, everyone will get the “aguinaldo”, which is a bag full of fruits, nuts, and candies. The most typical candy for this season are the “colaciones”. These are made of sugar, with a peanut, almond or orange peel inside.
Since this posada is especially made for kids, you can fill the bags with all your children’s favorite candies and maybe some ginger cookies.
Even if you’re not religious, this is a good activity to do, because kids will get to practice their Spanish by singing.
Break the Pinata
This is a very important part of the posada! The best of it is that it’s a perfect activity for kids; they’ll love it.
In Mexico, pinatas are used on different occasions, especially birthday parties. And they can be of different figures, like a superhero or a barbie. But for Christmas and posadas navideñas, it has to be a “piñata de siete picos” (seven spikes pinata).
This also has a religious meaning. Each spike represents a deadly sin and you hit and break the pinata to destroy the sins.
Before hanging the pinata, you must fill it with candies. Some people also like to fill it with fruits, but that’s a tradition some people don’t like to follow any more. Because the fruits would break with the fall and make a mess, and sometimes they would even hit the kids.
Candies are more popular for pinatas nowadays and we bet your children will love that. Oh, and don’t forget your kids can help you fill it. Meanwhile you can talk in Spanish with them about pinatas, their favorite candies and the posada.
When it’s time to break it, kids will have to make a line. Then, give the stick to one of the kids and he/she will have to hit the pinata with the stick while you sing “dale, dale, dale”, a pinata song. When the song is over, it’s time for the next kid, and so on…
If after all the kids have punched the pinata, it still hasn’t broken, you can either start the line again or it’s time for adults! When it breaks, all the children have to catch the candies and pick them up from the ground. Give them bags, so they can keep their candies.
Polish Your Kids’ Christmas Spanish Skills with Us!
We bet your posada it’s going to be a huge success after you apply these tips and tricks. And we know kids will get to practice and improve their Spanish skills by being immersed in a Mexican tradition.
But maybe you still feel like your children need more preparation in their Spanish skills for this Christmas. Then, our Christmas traditions in Mexico blog or our Spanish words and phrases for the Christmas holiday blog can help them.
After experiencing a Hispanic cultural event, like a posada, some might fall in love with the idea of their kids learning Spanish through immersion. If this is your case, enroll them in TruFluency Kids classes.
We offer Spanish immersion lessons with native teachers that will encourage your kids to speak in every class. Because we believe this is the best way they’ll get truly fluent.
Our classes also have the fun component, as we teach through cool Spanish activities, like singing, cooking and playing.
And because we know you’re busy, we offer flexible schedules, so you can choose the one that suits your family’s agenda. As well as the option of jumping into another class if your kids missed one for any reason. Oh, and our classes are completely online! So you can study with us from anywhere!