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University celebrates Advent with Las Posadas

CHARLIE DUCEY | Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Among the Advent traditions celebrated on campus this season is Las Posadas, a procession that celebrates the journey of Mary and Joseph to the birthplace of Christ. 

Three residence halls are hosting the event this week, the final part of which will start at the Grotto at 9 p.m. tonight and end at Farley Hall.

Las Posadas, which means “lodgings” in Spanish, is a Christmastime tradition that originated in Spain and is now celebrated annually in Mexico, the southwestern United States and Latino communities in Central and South America. 

Elaine DeBassige, rector of Farley Hall, said she grew up with the tradition of Las Posadas in New Mexico and wanted to ensure that the tradition became a part of Notre Dame’s Advent season.

“Notre Dame has held Las Posadas celebrations in years past, but usually it was just one night out of the year, and I don’t think it has been this organized,” DeBassige said.

In traditional Las Posadas observances, two individuals dressed as the holy couple lead a candle-lit procession to the home of a local family, who hosts a meal and prayer. A priest will normally bless the home and lead the prayer service, which often takes place on nine successive nights leading up to Christmas Eve Mass, with Mary and Joseph walking down the church aisle to meet the Christ child at the crèche.

“The celebration is usually a novena,” DeBassige said. “Nine families will host the event in community, but we decided it would be easier to have only three dorms host this week.”

Keenan Hall hosted the event Monday night, followed by Howard Hall on Tuesday night. Farley Hall will host the final procession tonight.

The Keenan Hall procession began with prayer at the Grotto, followed by a procession featuring traditional music in Spanish, sung by the student group Coro Primavera. 

Afterward, Ofelia Juarez, a Keenan Hall housekeeper, and several of her family members prepared traditional Mexican tacos for the attendees. 

Keenan Hall rector Noel Terranova said Juarez has offered her cooking expertise for such events in the past.

“Ofelia is part of our family,” Terranova said. “She cooked for our Las Posadas celebration last year. She brings her family, her sons and grandchildren.”

As part of the procession, freshman Halie Berrigan from Farley Hall dressed up as Mary and freshman Luke Joseph from Siegfried Hall dressed up as Joseph. The two said they agreed to don the costumes for Las Posadas at the request of DeBassige.

“We have a Monday night tradition where we have Mass and she feeds us, so she asked if we wanted to be Mary and Joseph,” Joseph said.

Las Posadas was new for many students who took part in the event, including Berrigan.

“I hadn’t heard of Las Posadas,” Berrigan said. “It’s a new tradition for me, and it’s cool to be a part of it.”

Contact Charlie Ducey at [email protected]