Then I stopped at the big supermarket, Ley, for unsweetened yogurt (very hard to find in Mexico). As I walked in I was surrounded by counters loaded with gaudy Christmas decorations, all made in China, all typical of Northamerican themes. Where are the luminarias, the traditional Mexican holiday treats and piñatas? My ears were assaulted by a recording of a children's group singing "The 12 Days of Christmas" and then "Jingle Bells," in raucous competition with another sound system in the dairy section blasting out Mexican rap, and the usual voice-over of some young woman announcing the daily specials.
I'm always a little late getting into the Christmas spirit, but this year there's one thing I'd like to do early: learn the tune and lyrics to the song "Pidiendo Posada," traditionally sung at the Posadas, the house-to-house processions depicting the "Santos Peregrinos"(holy pilgrims) seeking an inn for the night, that are to me one of the most appealing of the Mexican Christmas customs.
When I want to research customs of my new homeland, MexicoConnect is often a good place to start, and they didn't let me down when I went looking for the song. To hear it, I found a version on YouTube. The boys played the Innkeeper, indoors, while the girls sang the role of Joseph, outside the door. There was a lot of giggling, most were singing flat and I didn't get much of an idea of what the song sounds like, so I'll have to refer to my mentor, Lolita.
I noticed in the video, by the way, that most of the participants were singing from lyrics sheets, as though it had been a long time since they had experienced a posada.
Here's how an ex-pat described a local posada:
Here in Pátzcuaro, various neighborhoods between December 16th and the 24th pretty much shut off the street, light bonfires outside of those houses participating and bring out huge vats of a spicy fruit punch.
Now, doesn't that sound like fun?