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December 10, 2013 > FremontÕs Las Posadas

FremontÕs Las Posadas

By Arathi Satish

Las Posadas is religious and social preparation for La Navidad (Christmas) in Mexico and some Central American countries. Meaning "the inns" or "the shelters" in Spanish, Las Posadas spans nine evenings which commemorate Joseph and Mary's difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and their search for shelter prior to the birth of Christ. Fremont's Las Posadas, co-sponsored by the Fremont Cultural Arts Council and the Committee for the Restoration of the Mission San Jose every year since 1982, honors FremontÕs Spanish Mission heritage and this advent tradition. All are invited to join the procession and enjoy this celebration of the holiday season.

It is thought that Las Posadas may have started in the 16th century by St. Ignatius of Loyola or Friar Pedro de Gant in Mexico. It began when a Spanish expedition conquered the Aztec empire and Mexico became a Spanish colony. Initiated by early friars, it combines Spanish Catholicism with the AztecÕs celebration of the birth of their sun god, Huitzilopochtli, during the last days of December.

According to legends, Huitzilopochtli was conceived supernaturally by his mother Coatlicue. His brothers did not believe this and plotted to kill her. Realizing this, Huitzilopochtli came to Coatlicue's rescue by destroying his brothers with a fire serpent. The birth of Huitzilopochtli was celebrated joyously from midnight through the following day with singing, dancing, and speech making. Special dishes were prepared, including the construction of small idols using corn paste and cactus honey. Huge bonfires were lit in courtyards and on the flat roofs of houses. During this time, St. Ignatius Loyola suggested a Christmas novena, or special prayers, on nine successive days before Christmas.

This community event is a fun and novel way to celebrate the holiday season and show love, kindness, generosity, and tolerance within our community. On each of the nine nights of Las Posadas, a processional follows a representation of the Christ child. Participants at the head of the pageant assume the roles of Joseph and Mary. The procession symbolically visits different homes asking for shelter, re-enacting Joseph looking for a room at the inn. When the final destination home is reached, hosts welcome the group for a party that includes entertainment, food and prayer. Typically, the location is decorated with a nativity scene.

In Fremont, the procession visits a local business or organization while singing Christmas carols. Once the group is invited inside, a short entertainment program is followed by light refreshments provided by Fremont Cultural Arts Council (FCAC) members and the host.

Those who wish to join the processions beginning Sunday, December 15 through Monday, December 23 should gather before 6 p.m. on the porch of the Old Mission Museum at the end of Washington Boulevard. People are asked to wear warm coats and bring a flashlight to read songs. There is no charge to participate. The procession will leave for each night's venue by 6:15 p.m., singing traditional Christmas carols as they wend their way.

FCAC President Margaret Thornberry says, ÒIn past years we have carried a statue of the Baby Jesus with us, and knocked on the door at our destination, only to be refused the traditional three times, being told that there's no room at the inn, before the host opens the door and welcomes us in for refreshments and entertainment. More recently our hosts have sometimes taken pity on us when the weather was cold or raining, and welcomed us in immediately. I enjoy the traditional symbolism, so will hope that the weather is fine, and that I will see many of you there on at least one of these nights.Ó

Las Posadas
Sunday, Dec 15 Ð Monday, Dec 23
6 p.m. meeting time
Old Mission Museum
43300 Mission Blvd., Fremont
(510) 794-7166

Las Posadas Schedule:

Sunday, Dec 15
Convent of the Dominican Sisters
43326 Mission Blvd.
AAAAHZ by Jim Burris - Traditional Christmas

Monday, Dec 16
Cheese Taster Deli
43367 Mission Blvd.

Tuesday, Dec 17
Convent of the Holy Family Sisters
159 Washington Blvd.
First United Methodist Church Choir - Religious Christmas

Wednesday, Dec 18
Olive Hyde Art Gallery
123 Washington Blvd.
Band of Gold with Billy Smith and Knuti Van Hoven - Classic Pop Songs of the Season

Thursday, Dec 19
Mission Coffee
151 Washington Blvd.
Featuring Kristen Del Rio, Soprano - Classic Christmas

Friday, Dec 20
Museum of Local History
190 Anza St.
Sharon Xavier de Sousa, Soprano - Christmas Past Present & Future

Saturday, Dec 21
Flower Pavilion
43393 Mission Blvd.

Sunday, Dec 22
Tavares Realty
270 Washington Blvd.
Center Stage Singers - Contemporary and Traditional Christmas Standards

Monday, Dec 23
Old Mission San Jose
43266 Mission Blvd.
Entertainment by Mission; pi–ata for the children

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