For Miguel Zadquiel, the secret to staying in step as he dances at the front of the annual Christmastime procession through his neighborhood is in the bass drum.
“For every sound it makes, I move one foot, then another one, then I jump around, then I move my shoulders,” he said. The 14-year-old was one of the dozens of dancers and musicians at the front of this week’s joyful parade of people winding through the streets of the Mexico City borough of Xochimilco.
This festive procession and its related events are known as a posada and happen across the country. The yearly, Catholic tradition carries on for nine nights, starting on Dec. 16 and ending on the 24th. The style of each posada varies from town to town, but traditionally it is a re-enactment of part of the Christmas story.
Night after night, two volunteers dress as Mary and Joseph and walk through their community, knocking on a different door each day of the Posada season. Their journey symbolizes the biblical couples’ walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem and the eventual refuge they find in a stable where Jesus is born. Some neighbors join in the procession carrying candles. Others wait for it to arrive at the home where the pair playing the holy couple is finally received and the celebration continues.
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There’s singing, sharing of traditional food, and the breaking open of a piñata when the colorful paper-mâché container gives way, spilling candy into the hands of the children waiting in anticipation.
Posada season in Xochimilco is unique in that the neighborhood honors the Niñopa – the most venerated image of baby Jesus in the borough and considered its patron – and the story of Mary and Joseph simultaneously.
San Miguel Times