Posadas are an important part of Mexican Christmas celebrations. The word posada means "inn" or "shelter" in Spanish, and these celebrations recreate Mary and Joseph's search for a place to stay in Bethlehem. Posadas are held on each of the nine nights leading up to Christmas, from December 16 to 24th.
Posadas are held in neighborhoods across Mexico and are also becoming popular in the United States. The celebration consists of a procession with candles, sometimes with individuals selected to play the parts of Mary and Joseph, or sometimes images are carried. The procession will make its way to a particular home (a different one each night), where a special song is sung. In this song those outside the house sing the part of Joseph asking for shelter and the family inside responds singing the part of the innkeeper saying that there is no room. The song switches back and forth a few times until finally the innkeeper decides to let them in. The door is opened and everyone goes inside.
I'm afraid our Posada journey doesn't have such colour or variety, though it does go on for the whole of Advent. The Nativity figures (beautiful, olive wood ones) and their candle arrived at our house courtesy of Midgedancer, who had given them hospitality last night. Tomorrow we shall convey them to the house of another friend from the congregation - by car, not procession; he lives several miles away on the shores of the Holy Loch. Today's 'handover' took place in the context of my preparations for a forthcoming sermon; tomorrow's may well be more social in execution!