Hispanic.com is on vacation this week, and really pleased to reprint a great interview from last winter.
We are excited to have the opportunity to discuss “Las Posadas” with Father James Farfaglia, pastor for Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Corpus Christi, Texas. Father James spent 6 years living in Mexico as a missionary, speaks fluent Spanish, and counts many Hispanics among his parishioners.
Q. Father James, can you tell us – what exactly is “Las Posadas”? What is its significance?
A. Las Posadas was brought to Mexico by Spanish missionaries in the 1500s. The Spanish missionaries wanted to teach the people in Mexico about the meaning of Christmas. That’s why the real essential purpose of the Posada wasn’t just to be a big Christmas party, but it was also originally intended to be a teaching framework. It commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph who were looking for a place to give birth to the baby Jesus.
Q. I heard the term “Las Posadas” growing up in South Texas, my family is Hispanic, but we didn’t celebrate this or even know what it was. Is this the case a lot? Do many Hispanics celebrate Las Posadas?
A. The Posada is pretty popular in Texas among those of Mexican descent, usually that population born in Mexico. Among Hispanics born in the U.S., the Las Posadas celebration is much less popular.
Also, from my understanding Las Posadas is still very big in Mexico, and I understand it also does takes place in some other Latin American countries. Different regions of Mexico have different traditions regarding the Posadas in terms of how unique the festivities are.
Q. What Happens during Las Posadas?
A. “Posada” means “dwelling” or “inn”. A parish or individuals in a neighborhood may sponsor the posada.
First, the participants will gather and say either the whole rosary or a decade of the rosary . Then the group proceeds thru the neighborhood with candles. The procession is led with a manger scene, or it can become elaborate where people dress up as biblical characters and lead a donkey. Normally the group visits three houses where the Posada will not take place. The group on the outside of the house will sing the Posada song, and then there is a group inside the house who will say – the Posada is not here.
Finally there is a fourth house where the Posada will take place. If there is a priest or deacon involved – prayers are said. The music changes – and the group inside the house says the Posada is here. A blessing of the house may take place, and then there is a meal. The food depends on what the family wants to offer – and usually what’s pretty typical is food such as: tamales, pozole, menudo, and always desserts. Finally, there is a piñata for the kids. The Posada occurs for nine days on nine consecutive nights. It’s part of what is the Novena in preparation for Christmas. The last Posada occurs on December 24th. Many participants go to midnight mass following.
Q. Tell us about the Posada celebrated in Corpus Christi at your church.
A. Last year was the first year we did the Posada for nine nights in a row (we hadn’t done the full Posada before in years!). People were really happy to see the tradition restored. Hispanic culture is rooted in Catholicism, and there are rich traditions there; via the American system – many things may get lost in the traditions of American culture. It’s important that when people come to this country they keep maintain their cultural roots. Hispanic culture is a rich culture, a beautiful culture.
This year we will again be doing the Posada for nine nights. We are gathering from December 16th-24th at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and following a mass will start the Posada. Last year we had as many as a 100-120 people participating in our Posada each night. I think this year it will be even more popular!
To learn more about Father James Farfaglia visit his website www.fatherjames.org
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish
540 Hiawatha Street
Corpus Christi, Texas 78405
Pinata photo courtesy of N. Saum
This is vacation week at Hispanic.com. Thus, we're re-printing one of our favorite stories from December. We'll be back on schedule next Monday the 16th. Happy Holidays!
1. Because sometimes you need to feel spicy.
2. Normal christmas lights are so house next door.
3. Chile lights bring tons of lowrider cred.
4. The glow from chile lights is a more gentle and more livable glow.
6. Chile lights are year round & perfect to sit under whilst sipping beer on a muggy patio.
7. They glow in red, green, and yellow bringing you in touch with salsa.
8. Chile lights remind us of the earth, and our natural inclination to farm.
9. Everything is bigger in Texas. Including chile lights.
10. Jose Feliciano says in his song Feliz Navidad...do you really need any other reason?
Josh Cano is the guitarist/keyboardist for the band Intoweather, and a writer for Hispanic.com
-By Barbara Alvarez
This is actually a topic of strong opinion in my family. I’m originally from Las Cruces, which is 45 minutes north of the New Mexico-Texas border. When I was married, my family and I lived in Espanola, which is in northern New Mexico. About 25 minutes northeast of Santa Fe.
Our two (now grown) sons learned early about the “luminarias versus farolitos” argument – and to this day, both of them argue strongly that the proper term is ... well, I think I’ll do that “Big Reveal” at the end of this article.
Officially, this is a small paper bag with sand in the bottom to weigh down the bag. In the sand, a votive candle is set and lit to welcome the Christ child at His birth.
In New Mexico, these homey little lights are set along driveways and sidewalks and lit just as it grows dark. If you’ve never seen a luminaria – or farolito, you just have not lived! When it is completely dark, it is beautiful! Imagine small, brown paper sacks with a gentle light inside, glowing and flickering until the candle burns itself out. The sand, along with weighing the bag down, provides a bit of protection and helps to snuff the last of the flame out.
Here’s where a bit of the controversy enters. Here in New Mexico, “luminaria” also means “Christmas bonfire.” Now, when you think of the word “bonfire,” you have to admit, you probably think of a large, roaring fire, right? So, now do you see where just a bit of the controversy began?
Now, let’s look at what “farolito” means.
It’s basically another word for luminaria. I remember that, as my older son went to college, he’d ask a female friend to join him as they walked along the darkened roads of New Mexico State University when the luminarias/farolitos had been lit. This event is called “Noche de Luminarias,” with these little paper bags decorating the campus, beginning at one of the dormitories, looping around the duck pond, continuing along the International mall, then completely encircling the Corbett Center Student Union.
Local businesses get involved, offering trolley rides all along the luminaria-lit route. Las Cruces High School’s band sets up the display. Inside the Corbett Center, those enjoying the sight can indulge in hot cider, hot coffee and cookies.
The Big Reveal
My sons believe that “farolito” means “little light.” That’s probably what the parents of their old friends told them. What we do know is that the tradition of lighting the way of the Lord at His birth is something we love.
For me, it began much earlier. When my sisters and I were kids, my dad would have us fill the bags and he’d set the candles in the sand. We’d set them up surrounding our lawn then, at dusk, he’d light every candle. Sometimes, if we had enough bags, we’d “write” a word in the center of our lawn. One year, one of my sisters suggested, “Hey, let’s do ‘Joy’ on the grass!” She couldn’t understand why we cracked up. Our Catholic church sets up memorial luminarias all around the church on Christmas Eve. This welcomes people coming to the Family Mass, then the Midnight Mass and it is truly beautiful, even though it’s so danged cold!
Okay, time for the Big Reveal...After spending nearly a decade living in Espanola, this marked my sons and they still maintain many of the beliefs they were exposed to. To this day, both Joseph and Travis believe the proper term is...FAROLITOS! (And so do I.)
Barbara is a writer for Hispanic.com
The much talked about ‘Hispanic vote’, is really not ‘Hispanic’ at all. Yep, that elusive group that news shows, and politicians attempt to win over is not the ‘Hispanic vote’…and nor is it ‘Latino vote’ either. Nor is it the: Chicano, Xicano, Latin, Mexican- American or any other term. In fact the ‘Hispanic vote’ is much broader than any one term can encompass.
So then what is it?
The ‘Hispanic Vote’ is in fact a broad swath of voters from a variety of backgrounds. There are Mexican-American voters (1st generation), Mexican-American voters (2nd generation), Honduran-American, Salvadoran-American, Venezuelan-American, Cuban-American, Chilean-American, and we can slice that population even further (such as Chilean-Canadian-American)… but you get the point.
Yes, the ‘Hispanic vote’ is complex, and the languages therein may also be confusing, although yes, the majority speak either English, Spanish, or both. But the similarity in language/s may go only so far. The goals, hopes, dreams of each individual ‘Hispanic voter’ population is in many ways unique and catering to a general ‘Hispanic voter’, is not a guaranteed outreach to each of these Hispanic populations.
For example, what may work in Florida, where there are many Hispanics of Cuban descent, may not work as well in California, where Latinos may at times call themselves Chicanos. But in Texas, please call them Hispanics, thank you very much.
It’s interesting because, many say people like Ted Cruz R-TX, or Marco Rubio R-FL could be future ‘Hispanic’ leaders of the Republican party. My comment on that is just because a candidate does well in one state with a large Hispanic population, doesn’t necessarily ‘translate’. Same for the Democratic party on this.
2014 is right around the corner, and I’ll be watching the campaigns carefully on their efforts to win the ‘Hispanic vote’. Stay tuned, as mentioned before, this is gonna be good.
Zee is a writer for Hispanic.com
Do you coupon? Yeah, neither do I, but I wish I did.
For many Hispanics, using coupons is a great way to save a little cash, in fact Hispanics are 29% more likely to use coupons than the general population. That’s a lot!
Here’s the breakdown on coupon use according to a new study by Valassis:
% Hispanic responses
% of all responses
Online coupon (based on recommendation)
Discounts from mobile/downloaded to loyalty card
Coupons found on social media sites
Shares coupons via social media
Last week I saw a mom on a tv show who had couponing down to a science. They showed how her total on a $650 grocery bill after coupons was .32 cents. Amazing.
The stats provide some interesting outlooks on Hispanic spending habits. Important to note if you are a retailer targeting Hispanics.
If I was trying to penetrate the market, I'd especially consider social media. (the 4th row in the chart above) Coupons shared in social media are low cost as well as passive advertising being done by word of mouth. And that’s some of the best recommendation that a retailer can get.