Las Posadas in Mexico is a 9-day nightly reenactment of Maria and Jose (Mary and Joseph) searching for lodging on their travels to Bethlehem.
In the song, it’s all very sweet when the housekeeper (he insists his home is not an inn) finally allows Maria to huddle in the stables to give birth and all, but have you ever wondered what type of woman Maria was to even make this trip? What kind of courage did it take for her to leave her friends and family to come with her husband, who wasn’t even sure about marrying her in the first place? (Matthew 1:19 ) Then when she finally arrived in Bethlehem after a long, tiresome trek, she didn’t even have a place to stay. Talk about poor planning on Jose’s part! Can you imagine how it must have pained her to be in active labor and still at the door negotiating for a room as depicted in Las Posadas? Did the housekeeper’s wife convince him to offer them refuge that night? Did she attend Maria as she gave birth? Was Maria surrounded by a community of women or was she alone? Was a midwife summoned? Was it a difficult birth? Were there complications? Did she cry with joy when she first lay eyes on her firstborn? How was her recovery? Did she have problems nursing? Did the baby feed well? Who let those shepherds into the stable? Were they just bringing in their flocks for the night or did they come to gawk? I’m sure she wasn’t really up for visitors right then. Must have been another one of her husband’s bright ideas. (Luke 2: 1-20)
Then, after the visit of the three astronomers (Los Tres Reyes) some months later (not a handful of days like the Three Kings’ Day tradition suggests), Jose dragged her and her young son to Egypt, where they lived as foreigners until King Herod’s death (Matthew 2:1-23). In a land of strangers, who did she turn to when her son was colicky? Who made the poultice to keep the baby’s fever down? Who laughed with Maria as they watched him take his first steps? Who made up her community of women so far from home? Was she able to negotiate a good deal at the market? Did the sellers take advantage of her foreignness or her inability to communicate well in the language? Did she have anyone to listen to her complaints when Jose had one too many at the local gathering house? Did her first Passover celebrated without her family cause her to weep with homesickness?
Well, we can only imagine what Maria’s life might have been like, how she managed, what joys and sorrows she saw, what challenges she overcame. From what little we know about her, she was a woman of faith, chosen among women but firm in her modesty. The Las Posadas song and Mexican culture give her the added title of being the Queen of Heaven among titles but she considered herself no more than a servant. (Luke 1:48) It’s too bad those inspired bible writers left out so much of her story. Men!
I thought that instead of rehashing the holiday traditions unique to Mexico (See Christmas in Mexico) this year, I’d share stories of women, who like Maria, left the land of their birth to live in a foreign land. Perhaps by reading their stories, we might imagine what Maria’s early married life may have been like. I hope you are as inspired by the stories of these modern day Marias as I have been.