Las Posadas procession reenacts refugees’ flight of Bible

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The ecumenical Christmas festival of Las Posadas made its symbolic trek across the Holy Land of Perry Friday night, with the immigrant asylum-seekers Mary and Joseph in need of shelter in a cold, dark and unloving world and finding none.

The annual ceremony began with an ecumenical service at the First Christian Church in Perry, with the singing of popular Christmas carols in both English and Spanish and bilingual prayers and readings.

A procession followed, with a Perry boy and girl dressed as Joseph and Mary. They walked from the First Christian Church to Second Street, followed by the rest of the congregants bearing lanterns and candles and singing carols.

The procession made several stops along the way, including Avilene’s at 1228 Second St.and Casa de Oro at 1211 Second St., asking for shelter as the congregation sang. The holy family was symbolically rejected at each stopping place, as in the gospel accounts, until at last they found warm and generous acceptance and a community meal in the Fireside Room of the First United Methodist Church.

The nine-day religious ceremony of Las Posadas represents the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus. The procession has been a Mexican tradition for at least four centuries and possibly blends elements of Spanish Catholicism with the December Aztec celebration of the birth of Huitzilopochtli, according to cultural anthropologists.

The Perry Las Posadas ceremony is sponsored by Hispanics United for Perry (HUP). The group works to foster intercultural communication and understanding in Perry and to preserve alive the richness of immigrant and native Latino culture in Iowa.

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