Celebrate Las Posadas at these Iowa events

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

By Amie Rivers

December 13, 2023

Las Posadas, Spanish for “inn” or “lodging,” celebrates (and sometimes recreates) the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem taken by Mary and Joseph, and their search for shelter, as described in the Christian Bible.

It’s celebrated during the nine days leading up to Christmas, from Dec. 16-24, particularly among Catholics in Mexico and Latin American countries in Central and South America, along with people of Mexican and Latino descent around the world. In Mexico, the tradition has been going for more than 400 years.

Celebrations can start off solemn, by reciting or singing the posada litany, but parties afterwards include food, piñatas with seven spikes (to represent the seven deadly sins), aguinaldo or bolo (little candy bags), ponche Navideño (Mexican Christmas fruit punch), tamales, and singing. Karaoke machines loaded up with Christmas carols are also a staple of the holiday.

Want to be part of a posada? Whether you’re looking for a traditional religious experience, a learning opportunity, or a party, here are some events across Iowa in 2023:

Columbus Junction

When: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 16-18 and Dec. 20-23 (in Spanish), 6:30 p.m. Dec. 19 (bilingual).

Where: St. Joseph Church, 102 Gamble St.

More information here.

Davenport

When: 4:30 p.m. Dec. 16 (bilingual mass and Las Posadas), 6 p.m. Dec. 17-23 (Spanish Posadas)

Where: St. Anthony Catholic Church, 417 N. Main St.

More information here.

Denison

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16

Where: Western Iowa Tech Community College, 1019 Ridge Road

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Denison is hosting the third-annual Las Posadas celebration, where the public is encouraged to “come learn about Las Posadas and Latino culture.” The event will include piñatas, food, music, art projects, and lotería (similar to bingo). The event is free, with a free-will donation suggested. More information here.

Iowa City

When: 6-7:30 p.m. Dec. 16-23

Where: St. Patrick Catholic Church, 4330 St. Patricks Dr.

Music and rosary prayer will be bilingual, and guests can enjoy food, drinks and a piñata each evening. More information here.

Muscatine

When: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 22 (Spanish)

Where: Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic Parish, 215 W. 8th St.

More information here.

Mount Pleasant

When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, and 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23

Where: St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, 607 S. Jackson St., Mt. Pleasant

Two celebrations are planned, one to kick off the first day of Las Posadas, and one on the second-to-last day. More information here.

Ottumwa

When: 6-7:30 p.m. Dec. 16-19 and Dec. 21-23 (Spanish), 6-7:30 p.m. Dec. 20 (bilingual)

Where: St. Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church (for Spanish-language dates), 216 N. Court St., and St. Patrick’s Church (on Dec. 20), 222 N. Ward St.

More information here.

Washington

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 16-22 (Spanish), 7 p.m. Dec. 23

Where: St. James Catholic Church, 602 W. 2nd St.

Each evening from Dec. 16-22, light refreshments and aguinaldos will follow the church service, but on Dec. 23 there will be a meal, piñata and singing to follow. More information here.

West Liberty

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 16-20 and Dec. 22-23 (Spanish), 7 p.m. Dec. 21 (bilingual)

Where: St. Joseph Catholic Church, 107 W. 6th St.

More information here.

  • Amie Rivers

    Amie Rivers is Starting Line's community editor, labor reporter and newsletter snarker-in-chief. Previously, she was an award-winning journalist at the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier; now, she very much enjoys making TikToks and memes. Send all story tips and pet photos to [email protected] and sign up for our newsletter here.

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