Latino Voices

Hispanic Christmas Traditions: Celebrating Las Posadas With Villancicos (MUSIC) (PHOTOS)

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Mexico City, Mexico
Henry Romero / Reuters
People are seen near a Christmas tree and buildings around the Zócalo as part of Christmas celebrations in Mexico City, Mexico, on December 22, 2016.
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São Paulo, Brazil
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An illuminated bus drives along the streets of the old center of São Paulo on December 21, 2016.
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Medellín, Colombia
RAUL ARBOLEDA / AFP / Getty Images
A woman looks at a Christmas light display in Medellín, Colombia, on December 16, 2016.
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Machala, Ecuador
Guillermo Granja / Reuters
People pose in front of an illuminated Christmas tree in a park in Machala, Ecuador, on December 14, 2016.
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Guadalajara, Mexico
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People enjoy a Christmas light display in Guadalajara, Mexico, on December 12, 2016.
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Remedios, Cuba
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Cubans celebrate Las Parrandas de Remedios on December 24, 2015.
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Bogotá, Colombia
DIANA SANCHEZ / AFP / Getty Images
People walk along a park that has been illuminated for Christmas in Bogotá on December 17, 2015.
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Managua, Nicaragua
Oswaldo Rivas / Reuters
A colorful Christmas tree stands in Managua, Nicaragua, December 14, 2015.
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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sergio Moraes / Reuters
Fireworks explode around Rio's Christmas tree during its lighting ceremony at Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 12, 2015.
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Lima, Peru
Mariana Bazo / Reuters
Christmas decorations are seen in front of the Cathedral of Lima on December 7, 2015.
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Guatemala City, Guatemala
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Fireworks light up the sky at the unveiling ceremony for a Christmas tree in Guatemala City on November 14, 2015.
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San Salvador, El Salvador
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Passers-by walk next to a Christmas tree in front of the National Palace at the historic center of San Salvador on December 18, 2014.
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Asunción, Paraguay
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An eco-friendly Christmas tree is set up in front of the presidential palace in Asunción on December 22, 2013.
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La Paz, Bolvia
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People enjoy the eco-friendly Christmas tree set-up at the Basilica of San Francisco in La Paz on December 18, 2013.
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San José, Costa Rica
Juan Carlos Ulate / Reuters
People watch fireworks explode around the Children's Museum in San José on December 5, 2012.
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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Photo credit should read ERIKA SANTELICES / AFP / Getty Images
Christmas decorations are seen in Santo Domingo on December 20, 2011.

It’s a tale as old as time--a biblical narrative that resonates with millions of Catholics across the World and that inspired the Hispanic Christmas tradition Las Posadas, which annually sees entire communities come together to celebrate with song and prayer the birth of Jesus Christ.

From Nazareth, Joseph trudged onward to Bethlehem alongside Mary, his virgin wife expecting “the savior of all people,” baby Jesus. Mounted atop a wearied donkey, Mary journeyed to the “city of David” where the divine child was to be born--once there the couple went from shelter to shelter (posadas) looking for a place to rest and give birth.

From this nativity story a tradition was born, in countries like Mexico and Guatemala, the nine nights--representing the nine months of gestation--before Christmas are known as Las Posadas, which are celebrated with prayer, christmas carols (Villancicos), and musical re-enactments of Mary and Joseph’s search for a posada. In Colombia, these nine days, beginning Dec. 16 and ending on Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), are called La Novena.

“Las Posadas is really a festival of acceptance: Who will receive the child? Who will find room in their heart for Jesus, the son of God?” Reverend Pat Size, pastor of Hispanic ministries at Madison’s Grace Episcopal Church, told the Wisconsin State Journal.

To celebrate this 400 year-old hispanic tradition listen to some Villancicos above--including the “Pedir Posada” (Ask for Shelter) song used to musically re-enact the couple’s repeated pleas for shelter and the innkeepers’ dismissals--and take a look at how Navidad (Christmas) is celebrated across Latin America.

Día de la Velitas - Colombia