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Posadas 60 years ago: Times of slender means, simple joys, barefoot winters & finding tranquility in the cerro

We got there early. In the corral behind Eustacio Ortiz’s tarpaper jacal, we stacked gunny sacks of chayote, wild camote, jicama, oranges, limones, peanuts, sugared candies.

It was the last night of Mexico’s “posada season.” In the 1960s this Catholic evening ritual was considered in the campo (countryside) to be the communal “heart” of Mexico’s Christmas observance—the novena, nine days (beginning December 16), representing the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy before the birth of Jesus. Nine evenings of processions during which the Rosary was chanted aloud, and, when the selected house was reached, all those participating sang: “En el nombre del cielo/ pedimos posada/ pues no puede andar/ ya, mi esposa amadas.” (‘In the name of heaven, we ask for shelter as my beloved wife cannot go any farther.”)

From inside came the brusque reply, also in song: “Aqui no es meson/ siga adelante/ No puedo abrir/ no sea algun tunante.” (“This is not an inn, go on your way. I cannot open, don’t be an idler here.”)

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