New Mexico History Museum

Holiday Traditions Begin at the Palace

November 10, 2010


From folding traditional printers’ hats out of newsprint to chatting with Santa in the Palace Courtyard to circling the Plaza with Joseph and Mary, the Palace of the Governors has kept holiday traditions alive for 26 years. At the heart of the annual Holidays at the Palace events is Las Posadas, a community re-enactment of a centuries-old Spanish custom.

The event began in the San Antonio neighborhood near Acequia Madre and Paseo de Peralta in the early 1970s. Thrilled that they had successfully warded off construction of an apartment building, residents started a version of Las Posadas that by the early 1980s had grown too large for the neighborhood’s narrow streets. The Bank of Santa Fe worked with the Palace of the Governors to bring Las Posadas to the Plaza and to create another event, Christmas at the Palace, which has become a core tradition for many New Mexico families.

Since then, the Holy Cross Church of Santa Cruz has provided the ingredients for Las Posadas. This year’s event takes place on Dec. 12. The full schedule for Holidays at the Palace:

5:30-8 pm, Friday, Dec. 10: Christmas at the Palace. Enjoy hot cider and bizcochitos, live music, and a little quality time with Santa in the Palace Courtyard. Come for the cookies, warm your hands at a bonfire, and revel in the beauty of the Tesoros de Devoción exhibition while local performers fill the nation’s oldest continuously occupied building with their music.

5:30-7 pm, Sunday, Dec. 12: Las Posadas. Though rooted in Catholic tradition, the procession welcomes everyone to join in as actors playing Joseph and Mary search for an inn. The event ends in the Palace Courtyard with refreshments and carols.

10 am-4 pm, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 18-19: Young Natives Arts & Crafts Sale. Children of artisans who display their work under the Palace Portal offer their own hand-crafted goods for sale in the John Gaw Meem Room.

All events are free. The New Mexico History Museum and Palace of the Governors will close at 3 pm on Dec. 10 and 12 to prepare for Christmas at the Palace and Las Posadas.

Las Posadas was introduced to the Americas in 1578 by an Augustinian missionary, Friar Diego de Soria, in the church of Acolman in Mexico. Originally a liturgical novena conducted by priests, it was transformed in the 19th century to a Christmas pageant conducted by friends and neighbors in which people travel from home to home (or, in Santa Fe’s case, business to business), seeking symbolic lodging. At each stop around the Plaza, rooftop “devils” turn away the crowd, which responds with boos and jeers.

Eventually, everyone is welcomed into the Palace Courtyard to enjoy hot cider, bizcochitos and Spanish carols.

Holidays at the Palace are made possible in part by the City of Santa Fe Lodgers Tax, the Capitanes, a group of volunteers for the museum, and Los Compadres, a support group of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation.

For free, downloadable, high-resolution photos of Holidays at the Palace, click on "Go to related media," on the left, above.


Related Photos

Printers Hats
Christmas at the Palace bonfire
Las Posadas
Santa Claus

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