The annual candle-lit procession of Las Posadas travels around the Santa Fe Plaza and concludes in the Palace Courtyard. This version of an old Hispanic tradition recreates Mary and Joseph's search for a place to give birth to the Baby Jesus – and throws in a few devils for good measure. Stay for carols in the Palace Courtyard, along with cookies and refreshments. Free and open to the public.
The History Museum and Palace will close at 3 p.m. to prepare for this event.
For centuries, Las Posadas has been an honored part of the Christmas tradition. In it, families, churches, communities and, in Santa Fe's case, the Palace of the Governors, re-enact the search by Mary and Joseph to find lodgings prior to the birth of Jesus. A typical Las Posadas celebration stretches out over nine nights -- Dec. 16-24 -- with different families hosting a small party for the actors and others in their homes.
Las Posadas celebrations are common in northern New Mexico towns and deeply rooted in Spanish Catholic tradition. In the early 1970s, a successful neighborhood campaign against the development of an apartment building in Santa Fe sparked what was for a while a largely secular celebration of Las Posadas. It quickly outgrew its confines on San Antonio Street, and the then-Bank of Santa Fe asked if the neighborhood would move it to the Plaza in the early 1980s. The bank then paired with the Palace of the Governors to organize and host what has since become a beloved community tradition.
Globally, the tradition of Las Posadas dates back to the 16th century and St. Ignatius Loyola, who used an Aztec festival to teach about the birth of Christ, turning their nine-day celebration of the birth of the Aztec Sun God with a Christian celebration. What started as a novena, or nine days of prayer, eventually moved from the church to the community, to be celebrated in people's homes.