Searching for room at the inn


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — For nine nights in a row, Hispanics have celebrated las posadas in parishes across the Diocese of Davenport.

Anne Marie Amacher A young girl and boy portray Mary and Joseph during a posada at St. Mary Parish in Davenport Dec. 16.
Anne Marie Amacher
A young girl and boy portray Mary and Joseph during a posada at St. Mary Parish in Davenport Dec. 16.

Posada means inn or shelter, said Rosario Castel, a parishioner at St. Mary Parish in Davenport. Re-enactment of the posada story is an important Mexican Christmas celebration.

Castel said it involves the re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem. Las posadas are traditionally held Dec. 16-24.


At St. Mary Parish, las posadas are held in the parish hall Dec. 16-23, then in the church Dec. 24 leading to the Christmas Eve Mass. In some parishes posadas may be held in different homes.

On Dec. 16, more than 100 people gathered in the parish hall from throughout the Quad-City area. The evening began with the rosary. Between decades, a song was sung reiterating Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter.
After the rosary and litany, parishioners gathered in the entry of the hall to re-enact the posada story. A young girl, dressed as Mary, sat on a fake donkey. A young boy who portrayed Joseph stood by her.

The song “Canto Para Pedir Posada” was sung. This traditional posada song has two parts. One group sings the part of Joseph asking for shelter. The other group sings the response that there is no room for them.

The posada culminates when an innkeeper says yes to Mary and Joseph seeking shelter. “The last part is of joy,” Castel said. “Welcome, welcome. Welcome home pilgrims. Come inside.”

Following the reenactment, traditional Christmas songs were sung in Spanish and a meal of pozole (pork or chicken and hominy soup) and chips was served Dec. 16.

Castel said each night at St. Mary’s a different family serves the food of their choice. For Dec. 17 it was pozole verde (green), which is spicier. Other examples of food served are tostadas (tortilla with any number of ingredients served by the host) or cookies.

Each night children also receive candy.

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