Monday, November 16, 2009

Las Posadas: Shine A Light from Coast to Coast. National Days of Action Dec. 10-18, 2009

Immigrants and Faith Communities are coming together from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. to shine a light on the urgent need for just and humane immigration reform! Albuquerque, Ventura County, Portland, Seattle, Kansas City, Chicago, Milwaukee, and cities/towns across the country are participating with them.

National Days of Action: Dec 10th (International Human Rights Day) until Dec 18th (International Migrants Day)

Las Posadas 2009: Light a Candle from Coast to Coast and re-enact our journey as a nation to ‘welcome the stranger’ by showing the history and hope of refusing and then welcoming immigrants. The activities begin on Dec. 10, 2009 International Human Rights Day and end on Dec. 18, 2009 International Migrant Day. Starting in communities on the West Coast and moving across the country, we will light candles or hold candle lit vigils in the tradition of the peregrines, remembering that we have all been immigrants and strangers in this land.

Like the Posada tradition of going from house to house, we will hold the vigils from city to city, and the final destination of this Posada is the White House, where we can hope for leadership on compassionate immigration reform and a joyful celebration of accepting immigrants just as Maria and José were finally accepted.

Las Posadas (literally "the inns" in Spanish) is an annual celebration symbolizing the Biblical story of Mary and Joseph’s journey to find posada (shelter) in Bethlehem to birth Jesus (Luke 2:1-9). Traditionally celebrated in Mexico, New Mexico, and Latin America, it is a way of preparing for La Navidad (Christmas) and is believed to have started in the 16th century.

Traditionally, each family in a neighborhood will host a night for La Posada at their home, beginning on the evening of Dec 16th and ending on Dec 24th, Christmas Eve. Every host acts out the part of the innkeepers who turn Maria and José away. The neighborhood children and adults carry candles and act the part of the peregrines (pilgrims) who look for lodging by going from house to house singing a traditional song. Usually people play the roles of Maria and José or they use figurines from a nativity set. Even today, a real burro (donkey) is often used for Maria to ride.

At each house, the host responds by refusing to give lodging (also in song), until the weary peregrines reach the final place, often the church, where Maria and José are finally allowed to enter. Then the joyful celebration begins, which might include prayers, caroling, piñatas, fireworks or bonfires, candy, and food.

Dec. 10, 2009 - Dec. 18, 2009

Why between these dates? There are many important holy days that fall before, during, and after these dates, connecting communities of faith from around the United States and the world.

International Human Rights Day – Dec 10th

Tevet – Important Jewish fast day Dec 10th

Hanukkah begins Dec 11th – ends Dec 19th

Our Lady of Guadalupe Day is Dec 12th

December 18th – Al-hijira (Islamic New year and marks the migration of Mohammed and his followers from Mecca to Medina)

Bodhi – Celebrates Gautama’s attainment of enlightenment – Dec 18th

International Migrant’s Day Dec 18th

First “Posadas” (Christian re-enacting asking for room at the “inn”)– Dec. 15th and nightly to Dec. 25th

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