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Monday, December 25, 2017

MEXICO | Christmas in Navidad, Mexico

We are staying on the Bahía de Manzanillo.
Yesterday we went up to the Barra de Navidad.
Manzanillo, Mexico, Christmas (Navidad), 2017 – Alice and I celebrated yesterday by driving through the culebra (snake) of a Colima coastline that ends in Barra de Navidad (Christmas Sandbar), in Jalisco.

We played tennis and had lunch at the Grand Isla Navidad. The tennis-court base is a mat covered with loose clay. It works well in the Mexican climate.

Tennis on a mat with loose clay at Grand Isla
Navidad. Photo of us by Juan, the tennis pro.
Christmas in Mexico is a three-week festival. Before Christmas are Los Posadas – the days of The Inns, commemorating the traveling of Mary and Joseph from Bethlehem to Jerusalem for the Census. 

It must have a been a busy time for the innkeepers of Jerusalem, and doubtless they were charging a Census Premium to make sure that the well-off had ample options. It's no wonder Joseph had trouble finding a room in his price range.

(Los Posadas are in addition to the better-known 12 Days after Christmas, ending on January 6, the Epiphany, when the visit of the Wise Men, the Magi, is celebrated.)

In remembrance of the Holy Family, children in these parts go around to different homes. Each is a posada for the evening. The kids are given candles and a board with a painted-clay figure of Mary on a donkey and Joseph walking alongside.

They walk around the streets with this board and call at the houses of neighbors, singing a song about Joseph and Mary asking for a room in the house.

At each house, the children get the message that there is no room, and they must go away. Only at the end of the evening do they eventually reach the posada where they are welcomed. At this home they say prayers of thanks for the birth of the Savior and then they celebrate with food, games and fireworks.

A favorite game is with the piñata, a decorated clay or papier-mâché donkey (or bird) filled with sweets and hung from a tree or ceiling. Sometimes it is in the shape of a ball with spikes representing the seven deadly sins. Children are blind-folded and take turns hitting the piñata with a stick until it splits and the candy spills out. The climax of celebrations is on Christmas Eve, when a manger and sheep and  shepherds are added to the board. When the welcoming posada is reached, a baby Jesus is put into the manger and then families go to Midnight Mass, the Misa de Gallo – Mass of the Rooster.

It's called that maybe to signify that only the roosters are awake by the time they get home.

Or maybe because all four evangelists reported that (1) Jesus predicted that his apostle (St) Peter would deny knowing him before the cock crowed and (2) Peter did exactly that. After the Mass, more fireworks celebrate the start of Christmas.