Guests who visit the Rancho during the Christmas season can experience a unique tradition: Las Posadas. The singular form of the word means lodging or accommodation in Spanish. Around the Christmas season, the plural form refers to the nine-day religious event reenacting the census pilgrimage to Bethlehem by Mary and Joseph and their search for a room.
Each town in Mexico has nine shrines to the Virgin Mary. They were built specifically for this celebration and are maintained by the community throughout the year. Guests of the Rancho can get a good look at these mini chapels as they ride through the area. Each evening between December 16th and 24th, the townspeople gather at one of the shrines and walk to the next. The procession is sometimes led by a small group carrying a manger scene. Other more elaborate processions may include a live donkey and representatives dressed as Mary and Joseph.
And of course, it wouldn’t be Mexico if there wasn’t a party after each procession. Often times, a local family opens its doors to provide all of the “pilgrims” with food and drink. Or, participants retire to their own homes for smaller celebrations with friends and family.
The final procession on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) leads to the town church where mass is celebrated with candles and song to welcome the baby Jesus…and festivities that lead well into the morning.
The Christmas holiday continues through January 6th, which is El Día de los Reyes (day of the kings). Traditionally, this is the day Mexican children receive their gifts.