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Episcopal Church of Our Saviour - Secaucus, NJ - Crest

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Church of Our Saviour
191 Flanagan Way (Rt 153) Secaucus, NJ 07094

Tel: 201-863-1449
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Mark A. Lewis, Vicar MLewis@secaucus.org

Dorothy Fowlkes
Pastoral Associate


This page revised 22 Jan 03



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Las Posadas



   "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David), to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child."

   "And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

 -- Luke 2:1-7


   This familiar Bible story is related every year at Christmastime in churches and homes the world over.  In Mexico each December, it actually comes to life once again, as Joseph and Mary's long-ago search for lodging is reenacted for nine consecutive nights in the festive ritual of Las Posadas.  "Posada" means inn, or lodging, in Spanish.

   The idea of commemorating the holy family's journey to Bethlehem can be traced back to St. Ignatius Loyola, in the 16th century.  He suggested a Christmas novena, or special prayers to be said on nine successive days.  In 1580, St. John of the Cross made a religious pageant out of the proceedings, and seven years later the nine-day remembrance was introduced to the Indians in Mexico by Spanish missionaries.

   Solemn and deeply religious in feeling at first, the observances soon became imbued with a spirit of fun and, eventually, left the church and began to be celebrated in people's homes.  Las Posadas have become a community affair with friends, relatives, and neighbors getting together to share in the festivities, visiting a different house each evening.

   Las Posadas begins with a procession that sets off as soon as it gets dark. Usually a child dressed as an angel heads the procession, followed by two more children carrying figures of Mary and Joseph on a small litter adorned with twigs of pine.  Groups of boys and girls follow the lead figures, then come the grown-ups, and last of all, the musicians.  Singing or chanting special posada songs, they all walk slowly along, each person carrying a lighted candle, the children tooting on shrill whistles. When the procession reaches the house chosen for that evening, it divides into two groups, one representing the holy pilgrims, the other the innkeepers.

   The pilgrims line up behind the angel and the children bearing the figures of the Holy Family, and they file through the house until they arrive at a closed door, behind which the innkeepers have stationed themselves.  The pilgrims knock on the door and call out in song, asking for shelter.  A chorus of voices on the other side asks: "Who knocks at my door so late in the night?"  The pilgrims respond, "In the name of Heaven I beg you for lodging -- my beloved wife can no longer travel, and she is weary."  But the response is a stony, hard-hearted refusal.  "This is no inn.  Go Away!"  After repeated requests for shelter, the pilgrims explain who they are, and that Mary will soon give birth to the Son of God.  The innkeepers relent and welcome the exhausted travelers: "Enter, holy pilgrims.  Come into our humble dwelling and into our hearts.  The night is one of joy, for here beneath our roof we shelter the Mother of God."

   Everyone enters the room and kneels in prayer, after which the party moves out to the patio for fireworks and fun.  Small baskets of sweets, called colaciones, are offered along with sandwiches, cookies, and a fruited punch - and then it's time for the most exciting moment of all -- the breaking of the fancifully decorated, candy- and nut-filled piñata.  Sometimes there are separate parties for different age groups -- one for teen-agers, and another for the younger children.  In Mexico City, especially, so many posadas are held that active partygoers can manage to attend four or five in one evening ... and the festivities often go on until dawn.

   For eight nights virtually the same ceremonies are repeated.  But on the ninth evening, Christmas Eve, a particularly impressive posada takes place, during which an image of the Christ Child is carried in by two people who are called the godparents, and laid in His tiny crib in the nacimiento.

   Frances Calderón de la Barca, a Scotswoman married to a Spanish diplomat, traveled extensively in Mexico in the mid 1800's.  In her book, Life in Mexico, she described a Christmas Eve spent at the house of a noble lady that day:

   "This is the last night of what are called the Posadas, a curious mixture of religion and amusement, but extremely pretty.  We went to the Marquesa's at eight o'clock, and about nine the ceremony commenced.  A lighted taper is put into the hand of each lady, and a procession was formed, which marched all through the house, the corridors and walls of which were all decorated with evergreens and lamps, the whole party singing the Litanies.  A group of little children joined the procession.  They wore little robes of silver or gold lama, plumes of white feathers, and a profusion of fine diamonds and pearls, in bandeaus, brooches, and necklaces, white gauze wings, and white satin shoes, embroidered in gold.

   "At last the procession drew up before a door, and a shower of fireworks was sent flying over our heads, I suppose to represent the descent of the angels - for a group of ladies appeared, dressed to represent the shepherds who watched their flocks at night upon the plains of Bethlehem.  Voices, supposed to be those of Mary and Joseph, struck up a hymn, in which they begged for admittance ... A chorus of voices from within refused ... (finally) the doors were thrown open and the Holy Family entered singing.

   "The scene inside was very pretty: a nacimiento.  Platforms, going all around the room, were covered with moss, on top of which reposed wax figures representing parts of the New Testament.  There were green trees and fruit trees, and little fountains that cast up fairy columns of water, and flocks of sheep, and a little cradle in which to lay the Infant Christ.  One of the angels held a waxen baby in her arms.  A padre took the baby and placed it in the cradle, and the posada was completed.  We then returned to the drawing room -- angels, shepherds, and all, and danced till suppertime ...a show for sweetmeats and cakes."

   In Mexican cities today, Las Posadas often take place in the casas de vecindad, tenement houses, where the rooms all open onto one big patio or courtyard.  The neighbors contribute their share of the expenses, and celebrate together.  In towns and villages, the posada may start in the church courtyard, wander through the streets and end up back at the church, and the piñata will often be strung up in the village square.  Sometimes a Christmas Eve posada will have live people enacting the roles of the Holy Family, with Mary riding a donkey, and the procession concluding at a manger scene set up in a field.

   The children carry faroles, transparent paper lanterns containing lighted candles, attached to long poles.  When the Posada procession reaches the nacimiento, the youngsters offer small gifts of flowers or fruit, and each makes a little speech to the Infant Jesus.  Young men portraying shepherds then appear, leading sheep and goats.  One by one each man, with the help of a friend, lifts an animal onto his shoulders.  Forming a circle, they dance while onlookers clap in rhythm and children toss firecrackers at their feet.  In another part of the field, women prepare tamales and whip hot chocolate into foam with twirling wooden sticks, getting ready for the feasting that follows.

   A truly Mexican Christmas observance, the Las Posadas have, however, wandered north into the United States, too.  San Diego, California, presents posadas at the Mission of San Luis Rey, in the Old Town section, and in the Padua Hills where performances have been given for many years.  La Sociedad Folklórica continues the tradition in Santa Fe, and Mexican-Americans in both San Antonio, Texas, and Chicago, hold the processions annually.

Our Thanks

We owe our thanks to Michael R. Carmona of Austin, Texas, on whose website the material on this page was originally published. His historical background of Las Posadas drew drew heavily from Christmas in Mexico by Corinne Ross  Jadwiga Lopez (Editor), which is out of print, but available in used condition at Amazon.com, starting at $2.25.
You may visit Michael Carmona on the web.

Las Posadas
A guide to celebration


Las Posadas has been a way of preparing for Christmas in Latin American towns, mainly in Mexico. Unfortunately, the symbol of Santa Claus and the commercial excesses of Christmas have taken away some of the spirit of Las Posadas. In the last few years the Hispanic people have realized this and are making an effort to return Christmas to its true meaning. Because of this, there is a renewed interest in celebrating the tradition of Las Posadas.

In this pamphlet, prepared by Sister Trinidad Quintero, Teresiana of San Antonio, Texas, You will find suitable and practical aids to celebrate Las Posadas in your communities and your parishes with a true spiritual and Christian enthusiasm. Las Posadas will be an effective instrument to prepare for the birth of Jesus.

It is my hope that the best posada (lodging) that you offer the Lord will be the one in your heart. May the King of Peace and Love be alive in you!


Mons. Patricio F. Flores, D.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of San Antonio
25 October 1975
San Antonio, Texas


Las Posadas is a term well known in Mexico and the American Southwest. It is a word that means shelter, protection, welcome.

Las Posadas has always been a celebration full of enchantment and joy. It is the novena in preparation for the celebration of Christmas Eve. Las Posadas begins on December 16 and ends on Christmas Eve with the "Misa de Gallo," that is, Midnight Mass.

Las Posadas possibly owes its origin to Fray Diego de Soria, a monk of the Order of St Augustine. This enthusiastic priest introduced the devotion in the church of Acolman, Mexico, in 1587. The attempt of this zealous missionary was to replace the Aztec celebrations in honor of Huitzilopochtli, their God of war. These celebrations were precisely at Christmas time, and were a strong attraction to new Christians.

Fray Diego's Las Posadas became so popular that soon the celebration was taken up by other churches in Mexico and neighboring countries. Later they begun to be celebrated in the homes of Christians themselves.

In these celebrations the "travelers" went from house to house led by the "angel" with a little donkey on which the Virgin was seated. At her side was Joseph.

After singing the Litany and verses asking for a place to stay, the owners of the house opened the door and all participated in the food that the owners offered.

This custom, that seems to have been secularized, has a very important pastoral meaning. It is a preparation for the coming of Jesus. Jesus, our Savior, which should be anticipated with joy. When the Savior of the world was about to be born, Joseph and Mary did not find a lodging among mankind. The world, that was in darknesses, did not recognize the Messiah when he arrived, requesting shelter.

The people now recognize that the Messiah came to redeem us. As you celebrate his coming, open the door of your heart to give him a place to stay. How do you make room for Jesus? By means of your good works. Now is the time to prepare yourselves by your actions.

Altar for Las Posadas

The altar where you put the "Holy travelers" is an integral part of Las Posadas. You should be able to get statues of Joseph guiding the donkey on which Mary is riding. During your procession you walk with these statues firmly moored so they can be carried on your shoulders.

In churches that do not have these figures, the image of the Virgin can be put on a small altar

Order to Follow in the Ceremony


GREETING (This greeting it can make the priest or lay person, man or woman)


PRAYER - petitions

PROCESSION - During the procession the Litany of the Virgin is sung.

From the Church where you have said the prayers you proceed to the house that is to receive to the "holy travelers". An acolyte is at the head of the procession, carrying the cross. The others follow with lights or ignited candles. At the end, are those carrying the statues of Mary and Joseph. If you don't go to people's homes, you can leave some of these things inside the church. Then you sing the verses asking for "la posada". At the end of the song the doors are opened to give the "holy travelers" "la posada". You sing and enjoy refreshments and pastries; also you might have a piñata.

You might have prayers in this house or continue to another house asking for lodging. This varies according to the enthusiasm of the people. If you can't make the Novena, the posada can be held in a single day. In this case, all go in a procession to request "posada," calling at the door of some of the neighbors, who "deny" posada, until they arrive at the house where they are going to celebrate "Las Posadas".

Novena of Christmas

First Day - December 16


GREETING: Brothers, we began the Novena of Christmas today. We are preparing ourselves to receive Jesus who will be born again in our hearts. These posadas remind us that Jesus came into the world and was not received by many. Let us receive Jesus in our lives practicing what He taught us


PRAYER: Let us, like the Holy Virgin, know how to prepare ourselves so that Jesus might always be Our Saviour.

ALL: We pray to you. Lord.

Let us, like Holy Mary, live a pure life, pleasing to the eyes of God,

ALL: We pray to you, Lord

(other requests can follow.)



Second Day - December 17


GREETING: (This greeting can be spontaneous, according to the circumstances. You might exhort the community to practice some virtue in particular.)

READING OF THE GOSPEL: Luke 1, 31. 34-38.

PRAYER: Let us, like the Virgin Mary, always be ready to do the will of God, our Father,

ALL: We pray to you, Lord

Let us live our lives in a manner that provides a testimony of our faith.

ALL: We pray to you, Lord.



Third Day - December 18



READING OF THE GOSPEL: Matthew 1, 18-21.

PRAYER: Let us follow the example of St Joseph, and have great charity towards our neighbors,

ALL: We pray to you, Lord

Let there be peace and concord in our homes and let them be filled always with your love,

ALL: We pray to you, Lord



Fourth Day - December 19



PRAYER: Let us, like the Virgin Mary, know how to forget ourselves so we might attend to the need of our brothers,

ALL: We pray to you, Lord

Let not our pains and tribulations make us be indifferent to the pains of the others,

ALL: We pray to you, Lord.



Fifth Day - December 20




PRAYER: Let the celebration of this Christmas bring peace and happiness to our homes,

ALL: We pray to you, Lord

Let the world learn, by the mystery of the Incarnation, that Peace is obtained with love, not with arms.

ALL: We pray to you, Lord



Sixth Day - December 21




PRAYER: Let us, like the shepherds, be humble and so we might see our sins so that we might be repent them.

ALL: We pray to you, Lord

Let us serve God joyfully, so that one day we may enjoy his glory forever.

ALL: We pray to you, Lord



Seventh Day - December 22




PRAYER: Let us, like the shepherds, hurry to find you in each one of our brothers,

ALL: We pray to you, Lord.

Let us love you and serve you always with faithfulness,

ALL: We pray to you, Lord



Eighth Day - December 23



READING OF THE GOSPEL: John 1, 6-7; 9-12; 14.

PRAYER: Let our hearts be always open to your inspiration.

ALL: We pray to you, Lord

Let we not be among those who are turned away from you by sin,

ALL: We pray to you, Lord



Ninth Day - December 24




PRAYER: Nine Hail Marys are said in honor of the nine months that the Virgin carried the Baby Jesus in her womb.


In this day, before the Midnight Mass, the Novena of Christmas with "the laying down of the child" concludes. In this tender ceremony in which the Virgin (one young lady of the community) takes the statue of the baby Jesus in her arms and all sing, and sing the baby to sleep. Soon the Baby is put in the manger or prior to a side of the high altar or in one of the pews of the Church. This is a popular devotion and as such, full of of simplicity and candor.

NOTE: The devotion of Las Posadas is not complicated, nor need it must be. It may be be modified according to the customs and traditions of the region.

The aim of this pamphlet is to only to present one idea to which others can be added.

The songs that can be used are recorded in cassette.

Litany to the Virgin

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us; Christ, listen to us.
God, Celestial Father, have mercy on us.
God, Redeemer, Son of the world, have mercy on us.
God, Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy of us.
Holy Mary, pray for us
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of Virgins, pray for us.
Mother of Jesus Christ, pray for us.
Mother of the Divine Grace, pray for us.
Mystical Rose, pray for us.
Tower of David, pray for us.
Tower of Ivory, pray for us.
House of Gold, pray for us.
Ark of the Covenant, pray for us.
Queen of the Angels, pray for us.
Queen of the Apostles, pray for us.
Queen of the Virgins, pray for us.
Queen Risen to Heaven, pray for us.
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us.
Queen of Peace, pray for us.
Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, pardon us, Lord.
Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, hear us, Lord.
Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.

Songs for Las Posadas
(The following songs are in Spanish)

# 1 PEREGRINOS  [DO mayor]

Una bella pastorcita
caminaba por el frío,
y como bella rosita
va cubierta de rocío.


Caminando va José,
caminando va María.
Caminan para Belén
mas de noche que de día. (2)

Caminan de tienda en tienda,
no hay lugar en el mesón.
Todos les cierran la puerta
y también el corazón.



Humildes peregrinos,
Jesús, María y José,
mi alma os doy, con ella
mi corazón también.

Humildes peregrinos
Jesús, María y José,
mi alma os doy, con ella
mi corazón también.



¿Quién esa estrella que a los hombres guía?
¡La Reina del Cielo, la Virgen María!

1. Vamos caminando siguiendo la huella
    todos preguntando quién es esa estrella.

2. Para redimirnos de la idolatría
    vino a este mundo la Virgen María.

3. Las plantas florecen al ver su grandeza;
    los campos se alegran al ver su belleza.

4. Que alegre camino se ve en esta tierra;
    todos de rodilla estamos con ella,

5. Ya supe quien eres, madrecita bella,
    de amor y placer reluciente estrella.



Vea la letra completa aqui



Entren Santos peregrinos, ....
Vea la letra completa aqui



Noche azul Guadalupana
dibujada por la cruz
de una iglesia provinciana
donde está el Niño Jesús.
Cuando llegas a mi cielo,
Noche de la Navidad,
hay mas luz en el sendero
del perdón y de la paz.


Tus volcanes de Tecali
se perfuman de copal
y es la luna de mi valle
tu piñata de cristal.


Hay estrellas en el alma
y en el aire una canción
como brisa de campana
que me alegra el corazón.


Peregrina, noche santa,
Nacimiento de mi fe,
Navidad Guadalupana
yo jamás te olvidaré.



Llega, llega, pecador,
Llega, llega de rodillas
Que este Dios es verdadero
De los cielos maravilla.

1. Llega, llega pecador
    llega lleno de consuelo
    que este Dios es verdadero
    de los cielos placentero.

2. Debajo de un portalejo
    donde mana el agua fría,
    te ofrezco mi corazón,
    Virgen sagrada María.

3. Y humildes llegan rendidos
    los pastores a adorar
    al Niño Dios tierno infante
    que ha nacido en el portal.



Viva, Viva, Jesús mi amor,
Viva, Viva, mi Salvador!

Oh, Jesús tiernecito, ejemplar de candor
oh, precioso hermanito, eres todo mi amor!

Eres Tú en el pesebre mas hermoso que el sol,
Y mas lindo y alegre que el mas bello arrebol!

Eres, oh Niño amado, mi tesoro y mi bien,
Mi Señor humanado, mi modelo también.

Al mirar extasiado tu infantil sonreir
Oh, Jesús adorado, ya me es dulce el morir.

Y después de adorarte tan amable en Belén
Llévanos a gozarte, a los cielos. Amén.


Listen to a sample of music of Las Posadas from Circle of Light


The above guide to the celebration of Las Posadas was originally published as a pamphet in Spanish in 1975
by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine,
Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas

Translated into English by Donald Roberts
Church of Our Saviour, Secaucus, New Jersey
Please direct any corrections or improvements to this translation to
The original Spanish text may be found
on the web.

Our thanks to Michael R. Carmona of Austin, Texas, on whose website the material on this page was originally published. His historical background of Las Posadas drew heavily from Christmas in Mexico by Corinne Ross, Jadwiga Lopez (Editor). This book is out of print, but available in used condition at Amazon.com, starting at $2.25.
You may visit
Michael Carmona on the web.

The Posada illustration at the head of this page originally appeared as part of the beautiful and highly informative web pages concerning the Christmas traditions of Mexico, available from the University of Guadalajara. (Spanish language)

© 2003 -Church of Our Saviour

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Who will give shelter

To these pilgrims

Who come weary

Of being on the road?

In the name of Heaven

I ask for shelter,

Since no longer can

My beloved wife walk.

Don't be inhuman,

Have charity on us,

Because the God of the heavens

Will praise you for it.

We come weary

from Nazareth.

I am a carpenter

Whose name is Joseph.

Shelter I ask of you,

Dear landlord,

For just one night

The Queen of Heaven.

My wife is Mary,

She is the Queen of Heaven,

Who will become mother

Of the Divine Word.

May God pay you, men

For your charity.

And let Heaven fill you

With Happiness.

Fortune to this house

Who gives us shelter

May God always give it

His sacred fortune.




No matter how much you claim

To come very weary,

We don't give shelter

To strangers.

This is not an Inn,

Keep on your journey.

I can't open

For it might be a thief.

You may now go

And don't bother us,

Because if I get upset

I shall thrash you.

I don't care about your name,

Let me sleep,

And I shall tell you

We will not open.

Well, If she is a Queen

Who requests for her?

Why is it that at night

She travels so lonely?

Is that you, Joseph?

Your wife is Mary?

Come in Pilgrims,

I didn't recognize you.

Blessed is this house

That shelters on this day

The Pure Virgin,

The beautiful Mary.

Shelter we give you

With much content.

Come in fair Joseph,

Come in with Mary.



Come in Holy Pilgrims

Receive this corner

Not from this poor house, my house

But from my heart.

Pilgrim Virgin,

Glory of Bethlehem.

Mother of a Prince

And also of a King.

Come in Holy Pilgrims

Receive this corner ..