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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Las Posadas: Passing on a Hispanic tradition in Dodge City

  •     The Hispanic community’s religious leaders worry that their Christmas traditions will vanish someday, while their children are growing up in a different cultural environment.     For that reason, Hispanic children are the main protagonists this year of the traditional ...
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  •     The Hispanic community’s religious leaders worry that their Christmas traditions will vanish someday, while their children are growing up in a different cultural environment.
        For that reason, Hispanic children are the main protagonists this year of the traditional Las Posadas event, which the Hispanic community celebrates each Christmas season in Dodge City.
        About 15 children were chosen to represent the celebration’s main characters, said Lupita Jimenez, who is a Las Posadas coordinator with her husband, Mariano. The children are acolytes at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
        “We want our children to become intimately involved in Las Posadas so the tradition may be passed to the new Hispanic generation living in Dodge City,” Jimenez said. “Catholic Hispanic leaders in Dodge City want our religious traditions to not disappear among the new generations, and also we want to show our children that there is something more real and beautiful than Santa Claus.”
        Jimenez was born in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, and she said Hispanic religious traditions are unknown there because of the strong Anglo cultural influence. She did not know what Las Posadas were until she was 15, when her mother took her to Mexico City, where she saw her first Posada.
        “I did not even know what the three Wise Men were; I only knew about Santa and Frosty (the Snow) Man,” Jimenez said.
        She said nine Posadas are celebrated starting Dec. 16 and ending on Christmas Eve. The celebrations are hosted by nine families who are involved in church activities. The children participating in Las Posadas this year are called “los amigos de Jesus” (Jesus’ friends).
        Jimenez said the nine days represent the number of days that the Virgin Mary and Joseph spent traveling from Galilee to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.
        Each night, Joseph and Mary knock on a family’s door, asking for lodging. At first, the host refuses to grant posada (lodging) to the couple because of his distrust, but he finally gives them shelter.
        These ceremonies start with canticles, and participants light candles. After, the host family invites everyone to come in to pray and reflect on their own lives in the light of Christ’s teachings. Finally, the host family invites participants to enjoy traditional Hispanic dishes including tamales, posole, buñuelos, ponche and champurrados, plus candy for the children.
        The last Posada, on Christmas Eve, is when the nine host families meet. Children play and break a piñata in the shape of a seven-point star representing the seven deadly sins, according to the Catholic belief. Children also receive little bags filled with candy and peanuts as a symbol of Communion.
        Las Posadas ends when a baby Jesus figure is placed in the manger, and the families sing while children form a in line to kiss the baby Jesus. Then a large dinner is served to the families.
    Page 2 of 2 -     Each Posada is different regarding the gifts a host family offers to participants because of the country’s present economic trouble.
        According to Jimenez, each Posada costs about $200, but it may be more expensive depending on the family’s economic situation.
        “The main focus of Las Posadas is that Hispanic families get together and share brotherhood and dinner along with their children and friends, and now we want to pass the Las Posadas torch to the new generations growing in the United States,” Jimenez said.
        Hispanic families hosting Las Posadas this Christmas include Mariano and Lupita Jimenez, Edith Alba, Ema Martinez, Elizabeth Gomez, Gregorio Cendejas, Nancy Melgosa and Maria Gonzalez.