Posadas Time

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LOS ANGELES, CA.- Santa Claus  is coming to town again… And everybody loves to join Christmas celebration! So, this time I invite you to try something new besides the traditional Christmas tree, season carols and the gifts exchange with the family and friends. Let your Mexican festive spirit to flow in the air: Celebrate with a posada (lodging) and a pastorela (shepherds’ theatrical performance).

Following the Medieval Catholic tradition, some cultural organizations, churches and Latino community associations wherever there is Mexican-American population, commemorate Christmas remembering the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem where Jesus was born.

Look for the community events in your area and join them as volunteer or guest. It’s always a great way to spend the Holidays. Most of the times community groups organize a single posada, although original celebration lasts from December 16 to 24, representing the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy.

Even you can organize your own posada – with its respective pastorela! –  to have great fun in the Christmas Eve. Just prepare in advance a piñata, seasonal fruits and candies to fill the piñata, tamales, tacos, pozole or any other Mexican traditional dish for the dinner, and fruit punch beverage. Adults and kids will enjoy unforgettable moments!

Do not forget to buy some candles to light them up when the guests request “lodging”, along with little gift baskets to offer to guests , too. Print the lyrics to sing “la posada” – which are available in Internet – and you’ll be ready to celebrate.

If you wish your family and guests to perform a pastorela, you may need to prepare it  2-3 weeks in advance to get the costumes (shepherds, angels, devils, the three Kings, Mary, Joseph and little Jesus). You can play a traditional script or you can ad-lib a stage play. Everyone will have fun!

Twitter: @silviameave

Calaveritas for Halloween

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LOS ANGELES, CA.- Do you want to add more fun to your Halloween celebration? So,  honor this year those who passed away, with a Mexican Dia de Muertos style party.  Go back to your Latino roots and organize a great, unforgettable themed party.

Fun begins with the preparation of all the details for your social gathering, since you should spend some time placing your ofrenda (offering or altar to the dead) along with your family, making costumes for the kids – and for you too! – as well as cooking special dishes for the remembrance of the deceased.

It’s time to look into grandma’s old book of recipes to bake a traditional Pan de Muerto bread and make those delightful tamales that everyone enjoy at the end of the celebration. Don’t forget to cook the favorite traditional dishes of your deceased loved ones and leave for them a bottle of good tequila and few little glasses beside it, so the souls of the dead can drink it.

Remember that the ofrenda should recreate how the dead people enjoyed in this world when they were alive. It’s wonderful to pick the best photos, belongings and other mementos for the ofrenda that make families feel closer to their ancestors and their traditions.

In the last decades, Latin American families from cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, Memphis or even in Manhattan – Mexicans ahead – began to merge and attune Halloween and the Day of the Dead celebrations. This pumps up the season and strengthen family values .

Children and some adults who paint their faces with colorful pre-Hispanic patterns and flowers to look like decorated skulls or some others who disguise like La Catrina – a famous character from the Mexican nineteenth century –  go from home to home asking “calaverita”, instead of treat-or-trick, expecting to get skulls made of sugar, hard candy or chocolate.

Some communities in different states have festivals of altars, folkloric music and dance, besides ancient pre-Hispanic rituals to remember deceased people. At the end of the celebration they use to give away some of the dishes in the ofrendas to poor or homeless people.

At last, the remembrance of the ancestors gathers lots of people to have good time every year.

Twitter: @silviameave