LAS POSADAS (meaning ‘lodging’ or ‘inns’) is a centuries old Mexican celebration, combining Christian tradition with Spanish folklore.
Traditionally held from Dec. 16-24, actors playing Mary and Joseph re-enact the couple’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, by touring the neighborhood, knocking on doors, seeking shelter.
A crowd follows, singing songs, asking people to take them in. The answer from inside each house, again delivered in song, is always no.
On the last night, the night before Christmas, they finally find lodging and the event ends with a grand celebration around a nativity scene. And, of course, there’s food! Special treats created for the occasion typically include sweet and savory tamales, warm buñuelos (fritters) and cinnamon chocolate champurrado (thick, hot chocolate), and of course posole with red chile.
While local families still host open houses for friends, family and strangers alike from December 16-24 as they have for centuries, Santa Fe, being the City Different, has its own way of doing things and has condensed the celebration into a single night (this year it’s December 11th.) Held on the Plaza since the early 1970s, the crowd following Mary and Joseph carry lighted candles, as men dressed as devils taunt the procession from rooftops, windows and doorways. Wearing red face paint and makeshift horns, the devils try to intimidate the crowd by throwing insults and yelling, ‘Váyanse de acqui!’ (‘Get out of here!’)
The crowd yells right back, as the procession makes its way around the four corners of the Plaza, knocking on doors and being refused entry. The event ends, happily, with a festive gathering in the courtyard of the Palace of the Governors, accompanied by hot chocolate, biscochitos and musicians playing carols.
And you’re all invited!
3 cups all purpose flour
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons crushed anise seed
Zest of one orange
11/4 cups lard
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1) In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add anise and orange zest and mix well.
2) In a separate bowl, combine sugar and lard and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine.
3) Gradually beat in the flour mixture, until the mixture is combined. (Dough should be thick and similar in consistency to pie crust dough.) Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
4) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon for topping.
5) On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut our cookies with a cookie cutter. Place on lined baking sheet and bake until light golden, about 10-12 minutes.
6) Let cookies cool for about a minute, then carefully dunk them in the sugar mixture. Place on cookie rack until completely cooled.