Las Posadas

(Mood: festive)

Las Posadas is one of my favorite Christmas celebrations. As many Latin American celebrations it is rich in tradition and details. Every Latin American country adds something to the table but my early memories are from all the singing and the yummy food and sweets we got every day for nine days. Cool huh?

Las posadas are religious festivities to prepare to celebrate Christmas. They begin on December 16th and continue until Christmas Eve on the 24th.This Christmas tradition is to explain the long journey of Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Betlehem and their difficult search for lodging or accomodations and waiting for Jesus to be born.

Something interesting about these festivities is that apparently there were similar celebrations before the Spanish conquistadores arrived to Mexico. According to some, the Aztecs celebrated that the god Quetzalcóatl visited them during the Winter Solstice. And for nine days they made preparations and then celebrated with dancing, singing, sacrifices and offerings.


So, when Fray Diego de Soria got approval from the Pope in 1587 to celebrate the Misas de Aguinaldos, the old Aztec traditions were changed to christian religious celebrations. During the Misas de Aguinaldos christmas scenes were presented and to animate them they sang happy carols, had lots of lights, piñatas, food and more. In the early years Las Posadas were in churches and cloisters, then they spread to neighborhoods and from there from country to country.

Now, thinking a bit about it I am reflecting a couple of things here:

The journey. How many of us have migrated like Mary and Joseph? For many of us the journey would have been difficult. Leaving the place we used to call home, family, friends. But also insecurity, violence or going away because of better opportunities. I had to leave Honduras because I wanted to do a PhD. Many have to go to different places to do postoc if they want to continue in academia.

Asking for lodging or accommodation. How many doors have we knocked on like Mary and Joseph? Many of us had or have problems with housing in Stockholm. All those waiting lists to get a place to live. How about applying for a position as a PhD student. I had to apply twice before I was accepted at KI. And nowadays applying for a job… Let’s see how many doors I will have to knock before I get the job.

The period of waiting. Las Posadas also reflect on the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy. I can totally relate to that since I have two kids. But there are many other things that I had to wait for. Applications I did to be accepted in a program, those papers that were reviewed and then accepted, and every grant. Every waiting period has been full of anxiousness, wonder or excitement.

The celebration. Once the baby is born, what a celebration. With a sandwich and a juice at Karolinska Hospital I celebrated my babies birthday. Believe me, they were the best sandwiches ever (after nine months of being sick). And of course, every paper was also celebrated with champagne, wine and or a great cake. Oh and the PhD thesis! Big celebrations: party after the defense and the Conferment Ceremony in the City Hall.

Well, it is been quite a journey so far, let’s celebrate what we have until now. I am sure are other many things on the waiting. Which are you waiting for?  Which are you celebrating these Days?

Cheers,

Irina Jovel-Dalmau

PhD in Malaria

KI Alumni

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