Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
For Abraham Placencio the night was steeped in nostalgia.
“Growing up, my mother was in charge of doing the Posadas in our neighborhood,” he said, remembering the tradition fondly. “Each night, we would pray, then sing, of course, and eat.”
Placencio was one of more than a hundred people who gathered Thursday evening for the second annual Las Posadas held at Santa Maria De La Vid Abbey, a monastery fixed upon the Southwest Mesa.
“Had there been any more people there, we wouldn’t have been able to fit them in the church,” the Rev. Graham Golden said.
Posadas is a nine-day Hispanic Christmas tradition, from Dec. 16 through Dec. 24, commemorating the coming of Jesus Christ and involves a re-enactment of the evening Joseph and Mary sought refuge before Christ’s birth.
“It’s such an important thing to maintain and rekindle,” Golden said. “It’s one of those ritual acts that help us build solidarity with the greater human community. Having no place to rest, no place to belong – that’s fundamental to so many people’s experiences.”
The celebration is deeply rooted across New Mexico, in towns big and small, and usually involves music, prayers and ends in a feast.
Santa Maria De La Vid Abbey was no exception.
It started in the chapel around 6 p.m. as the crowd trickled in from the bitter cold for evening prayers, known as vespers. From there everyone gathered around a bonfire outside to await the re-enactment of Posadas.
A young man and woman, dressed as Joseph and Mary, appear and the gospel is read.
Following songs performed by a choir and musicians, Joseph and Mary led the crowd into the church and ended the tradition with prayers.
Afterward, the party begins. Everyone enjoys posole as a piñata is ceremoniously smashed to bits.
Placencio, who lives across town, joked that he came on a “pilgrimage” to join the festivities – a long-held family tradition.
“It’s important for us to keep our traditions alive. Especially among the Hispanic community,” Placencio said. “Not concentrate on the material part – this is the spiritual part, which we really need to continue and pass on to the next generation so they can see the beauty in it.”
For Jesus Moreno, the tradition is a reminder of Christ’s humble beginnings.
“We do call him the King of Kings but, in the beginning, he was born in a manger with animals. I think we can take a lesson from that. We need to be humble in ourselves,” he said. “It’s not about the gifts. It’s about being with family and enjoying each other.”
Moreno said he had never been to Posadas until his wife, Savannah, brought him along to the celebration in Las Vegas, N.M., where her family lives.
The couple, who have a baby on the way, were excited for their first time celebrating Posadas at the abbey and didn’t downplay the other benefits.
“It’s awesome, they feed you afterwards,” Jesus Moreno said.