Costa Rican version of Christmas caroling is called posada

A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela The predominately young crowd is treated to traditional Christmas songs on the guitar and in vocals. The nativity scene at the fireplace is typical in Costa Rican homes this time of year.

A little boy dressed as Joseph and two little girls dressed as Mary stood outside a door in a house in Barrio Aranjuez Thursday night. They were surrounded by other children and a woman playing the guitar. This is not a scene to a play or some sort of costume contest. This is a re-enactment of the biblical moment when a pregnant Mary and her husband Joseph went home to home asking for a place to stay, or in Spanish posada. Except that the modern Mary and Joseph and their followers are granted entry.

During the end-of-the-year holiday celebrations in a Catholic Latin American country, it is very common to celebrate the search by Mary and Joseph for lodging. This is done in nine evenings prior to Christmas.

The nine days are supposed to represent the nine months Mary was pregnant. And every night has a theme in which a few biblical verses pertaining to the topic are read. When the praying is complete, there is music and singing. The songs are all Christmas classics in Spanish such as “Silent Night” and “Little Drummer Boy.” The participating children and adults represent pilgrims, or peregrinos.

In “Anno Domini,” it’s the children and adults who go house-to-house asking for lodging, but in song. The peregrinos don’t go to random houses like Christmas carolers. Rather there are host houses whose occupants volunteer. They set up a space for music and then end the evening with snacks and beverages. At least this is the way it is celebrated in Costa Rica. The tradition varies with the country.

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