Mary and Joseph find room at the inn during annual Las Posadas celebration (Video)
Dec. 22, 2011 at 6:22 a.m.
Updated Dec. 23, 2011 at 6:23 a.m.
Unlike Motel 6, hardly anyone in Victoria left the light on for Mary and Joseph this week.
As the couple made their way through the cold, downtown streets of the city humbly asking for a place for pregnant Mary to rest, all but one family turned them away.
The Magallans opened their doors and hearts to the family as well as a processional of about 60 people as part of the annual Las Posadas celebration.
"It's our way of reminding people that Christ is the reason for the season," said Lupe Olguín. "This is the true meaning of Christmas."
Rooted in Luke 2: 1-7 of the Bible, Las Posadas, which is Spanish for "the inn," is a traditional Catholic and Mexican tradition that re-enacts Joseph's search for room at an inn.
The celebration, which runs from Dec. 16 through Christmas Eve to represent Mary's nine months of pregnancy, entails a processional carrying a doll representing Baby Jesus and images of Joseph and Mary riding a burro through the streets in search of lodging.
Although the tradition is sanctioned by the Catholic church, it is organized by church members.
Each night, the participants act as pilgrims traveling to previously selected homes, which serve as inns, to read Scriptures, sing Christmas carols called villancicos and ask for lodging for the night.
The doll is left at a host home and picked up on the next night when the processional begins again.
This continues for eight nights in commemoration of the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
The procession has been a tradition in Mexico for 400 years.
On Wednesday night, warmly dressed participants of all ages made their way to homes along a cross-shaped, candle lit path on Bridge and Liberty streets making a joyful noise with their voices and instruments.
"I allow the pilgrims to come to my house for the love of God," Rosalinda Puerto said in Spanish.
Puerto said she has allowed her home to be a stop on the Las Posadas trek for more than 10 years.
Exemplifying the commandment of loving thy neighbor, Harold Nichols said he welcomes the processional to stop at his house annually even though he is Episcopalian.
"We're neighbors. It's a mark of Christianity, helping each other," said Nichols.
For more than 30 years, Lupita Magallan, 85, and her children have participated in the event.
This year, their home served as the host house.
"As long as it's going on, it will always be here," said Olguin, who has participated in the event since birth and even played Mary in the processional when she was 30 and pregnant.
She credits the local nuns for helping keep the tradition alive in The Crossroads.
"That's my job as a missionary sister so new generations don't forget the season is not just about music and piñatas," said Sister Socorro Garcia, a sister in the Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
"It is spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord," said Garcia, who has served as nun for the past 63 years.
One of the younger participants of the celebration, Abel Flores, 24, said he looks forward to the event every year.
A student at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, he plays an instrument to accompany the carols.
"I find it interesting to be a part of this cultural tradition," said Flores. "It's good for the younger generation to keep in touch with the Hispanic culture and make sure we don't forget the historical meaning of the holiday. It serves as a reminder for us."
Upon arriving back at the host home, participants enjoyed a fiesta with traditional Mexican dishes including tamales, buñuelos and chocolate.
Although this year's celebrations have not yet concluded, Teresa Tijerina said she is already looking forward to next year.
"I do it because I live for my Lord," said Tijerina."