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Notre Dame celebrates Las Posadas in anticipation of Christmas

| Wednesday, December 5, 2018

This week, Notre Dame celebrates three consecutive nights of Las Posadas, a Christmas-time Catholic tradition in Spanish-speaking countries around the world. It commemorates Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus.

Farley rector Elaine DeBassige, who was instrumental in bringing the tradition to campus, said Notre Dame’s version compresses a nine-night novena down into three.

“It’s supposed to be a novena, but on campus, we just don’t have that kind of time, so we readjusted,” she said in an email. “We sing carols and travel to many locations seeking shelter for Jesus and Mary. Each location we stop at, we sing a part of the Las Posadas song and are turned away. We pick up more carols at the place that rejected us. We continue until we reach our final destination.”

Becky Ruvalcaba, assistant director of multicultural ministry, said in an email that each night ends in festivities.

“Once we are invited in at the end of the procession, we move to the chapel and have scripture, music and prayer. Finally, at the end we have a celebration,” Ruvalcaba said.

Music and food are an integral cultural part of Las Posadas. DeBassige said Notre Dame can expect to see home-cooked Hispanic dishes, catering, mariachi and a pinata.

“Because the crowds are growing, we have some catered food from local restaurants like Mango Cafe. This year in Farley, we are adding cheese enchiladas, pozole and bizcochitos,” she said. “Several women learned how to be New Mexican tonight.”

For Ruvalcaba, Las Posadas embodies the beauty of the Catholic image of the Holy Family, she said.

“My favorite part is the walking and singing as one community of God, prayerfully remembering our Holy Family,” Ruvalcaba said. “Las Posadas has allowed me to deepen my devotion to the Holy Family and to reflect on the mystery of the incarnation of our Savior Jesus Christ, who was born to the holiest of families in the poorest of material circumstances.

“Las Posadas also allow me to reflect on all those people still today that are left out in the cold, seeking refuge — people seeking a place to rest after a long journey and are turned away because there is ‘no room,’” Ruvalcaba said. “This journey of Mary and Joseph is hopeful for all of us, those that seek shelter and for those that provide shelter. My heart is constantly moved by the image of Mary and Joseph on journey, seeking to birth peace in the world.”

DeBassige said the celebration lets her share her home in a special way.

“People say how this makes them feel at home and part of something special,” DeBassige said. “Every year, I hear something like this. It makes me feel like I am honoring my village, San Rafael, New Mexico, my culture and my mom who always has a big showing at her house when she hosts. Making a home that welcomes everyone is what this is all about. When we get to welcome others in from the cold for fellowship, food, prayer, comfort, laughs, warmth — this is living.”

The event kicked off Tuesday night on Mod and East Quads, with a reception in Dunne Hall. Wednesday night it takes place on North Quad, with a reception in Farley Hall. Thursday night will be on South and West Quads, with a reception in Coleman-Morse Center.

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