San Bernardino residents Gary Ferrer and Ivan Resendez have spent many years recognizing the christmas tradition of Las Posadas. The tradition portrays Mary and Joseph traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem to find shelter for the birth of their son Jesus.
Despite attending well organized celebrations in the past, Ferrer and Resendez acknowledge the need for an event that resembles the culture in Mexico and other parts of Latin America.
It’s why the Posada to be held at the St. John’s Episcopal Church on Dec. 16 will be a “massive event” filled with folkish art and dance performances to make the larger community feel like they’re back home, said Ferrer and Resendez.
“Many people haven’t gone back to their homeland for years,” explained Ferrer. “We’re hoping to provide these people with good memories.”
Posadas annually take place on each of the nights leading up to Christmas Day. The nine days represent the nine months that Mary was pregnant with Jesus. Typically those who roam house to house re-enact the part of Joseph–asking for a place to stay–while those inside the home recite the part of the innkeeper, saying there is no room. They will continue back and forth a few times until the innkeeper decides to let them in on the ninth day. The hosts will open the door and everyone goes inside to be served pozole, tamales, atole, or ponche.
The Posada being orchestrated by Ferrer and Resendez will be slightly different. Residents will not be walking from door to door, as is done in Mexico and Latin America, and will instead be treated to a special performance of La Cancion Para Pedir Posada (Song To Ask For Shelter) by Ferrer’s Baile Folklorico group.
“Everyone knows that special song,” Resendez chuckled, while singing portions of the song. “But Gary and I want to make it special.”
San Bernardino Fine Arts Commissioner Sandra Ibarra, who will be helping with other posadas across town, believes holding the celebrations will help residents connect with each other.
“Having had the chance to previously walk in these streets, in a time of high crime, I see that not many neighbors know each other,” Ibarra explained. “They keep to themselves. Posadas are a chance for the community, neighbors, and families to come together.”
Ferrer and Resendez agree that it’s important to bring joy and happiness to an otherwise desolate community.
“People are struggling,” said Resendez. “It doesn’t cost anyone a penny to attend and perhaps bring happiness to themselves or their kids.”
Scheduled Posada events in San Bernardino:
12/16 St. John Episcopal Church 1407 N. Arrowhead Avenue 5 p.m.- 10 p.m.
12/20 Santana Funeral Services 1798 N. D Street 6 p.m.
12/21 Garcia Center for the Arts 536 W. 11th Street 6:30 p.m.- 9:30 p.m.
12/22 Our Lady of Guadalupe 1430 W. 5th Street 6 p.m.