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Las Posadas celebration in Denver addresses present day issues in traditional celebration

Lucia Guzman and Yolanda Ortega organized their first community posada to discuss ways to give back to the community in the coming year.

DENVER — Las Posadas are a traditional celebration in many Latin countries that commemorate Mary and Joseph's search for lodging leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ. Many celebrations include a reenactment of their journey while singing traditional songs. 

Tuesday night, Yolanda Ortega and Lucia Guzman organized a posada that included messages of present day issues. 

"We’ve done posadas throughout the years," Ortega said. "We thought that in the spirit of Joseph and Mary seeking shelter, that we think that they really do represent a whole community of those who seek shelter, of those who seek asylum, who seek safety, the lonely, the homeless – the immigrants who come here." 

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Credit: KUSA
In their reenactment, the first home they visit turns them away as they continue to seek a place to sleep.

"It is a reminder that we come from those who took an incredible hardship to get here and every one of them has a story like that," she said. 

Guzman added, "Today it is more than anybody right now – the immigrant that is not accepted and the refugee. Countries all over the world are upset because so many refugees are going to their countries seeking shelter." 

Ortega and others participating in the posada walked through the neighborhood singing "cantos para pedir posada" or "songs to ask for lodging." Ortega adjusted some of the lyrics to fit their message of welcoming all in the spirit of the holidays. 

Credit: KUSA
Community members walking to Guzman's house as they seek lodging as part of their posadas reenactment.

As they walk through the neighborhood, Guzman stays put in her home and prepares to welcome in those participating in the reenactment. Guzman makes sure the pozole, tamales, empanadas, flour tortillas, and pan dulce (sweet bread) are set on the table.

When they arrive, Guzman greets them as she explains the significance of the celebration. 

"This is your place tonight; we accept you," she said.  

"We’re doing this because we need to keep traditions. Some people just need warmth, but all of these people are amongst us so tonight, we welcome each other and all of those we represent and all of those who will knock on our door."

They are invited in to help themselves to warm food and enjoy each other's company. Guzman said the celebration reminded her of her own family and their traditions. Participating in these celebrations every year helps those with Hispanic/Latino roots stay connected to their cultures.

Ortega and Guzman said they wanted to use this evening as an opportunity to connect with various community leaders to discuss ways to give back to the community in the coming years. 

"The group of people here are that they are connected to many of the organizations, nonprofits or centers where there is a need," said Ortega. 

They plan to make this an annual tradition while having a new plan of action for the following year. "Perhaps it’s a clothing drive or a way to raise funds for family, so I’m looking forward to that," said Ortega. 

Both Ortega and Guzman hope to inspire more neighborhoods to participate in posadas in the coming years. 

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