Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter Weather/Travel Troubles/La Posada

A wintry travel mess, especially for the Great Lakes and northeast. As I write this, there is freezing rain in Chicago. All of this will be marching eastward during Christmas Eve. So make sure you check with your airline. There are bound to be lots of delays and even cancellations.

The figure to the right shows the weather advisories as of the time I write this...so it is time sensitive. Please note the the brown areas are wind advisories only--not winter weather. Also, note that a couple items down is the color coded radar and that is looping to an up to date point.

A very cold day again on Wednesday for the northern tier of states with snow and freezing rain across the northeast. There will also be rain and even some storms across much of the east.

For Houston, another cool to mild day with some rain--a few thunderstorms are possible as a weak front moves through. It will be cooler and less humid on Christmas Day, but I think we will have trouble shaking free of the clouds. The next front arrives Saturday and it looks like there will be sunshine for at least part of the coming week.

The word is present or regalo, pronunced ray-GAH-low. I think it is more fun to give a regalo than to receive one.

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Adriana Gutierrez, Spanish teacher and friend, sent me this wonderful information about a Spanish tradition called Las Posadas. This was celebrated by many of my friends in the Rio Grande Valley, where I grew up. Thank you Adriana!

A wonderful Mexican Christmas tradition, LA POSADA literally translates in English as "the inn" or "the lodging" and symbolizes the journey of Mary and Joseph as they searched for shelter in Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus.

The nine-day celebration lasts from December 16 to Christmas Eve (Noche Buena or "Holy Night") and includes a candle-lit procession of children and parents reenacting Mary and Joseph's journey through Bethlehem.

The holiday ritual includes a lively and colorful pageant of children (the "pilgrims" or peregrinos ) - costumed as Joseph, Mary, angels, shepherds and the Three Wise Men - who travel from house to house until they reach a designated home where Las Posadas will be celebrated.

Upon arrival, the hosts or "inn keepers" meet the procession at the door to begin the holiday fiesta with an exchange of lyrics from the traditional Pidiendo Posada:

Outside Singers
En el nombre de el cielo (In the name of heaven), os pido Posada (I ask you for shelter), porque no puede andar (because my beloved wife) mi esposa amada (can continue no longer).

Inside Singers
Aqui no es meson (This is no inn), Sigan adelante (continue on your way). Yo no puedo abrir (I am not about to open.) No sea algun tunate (You may be a scoundrel.)

Upon opening the doors at the final stop, the tune changes, the Joseph, Mary and pilgrims enter,
and all sing these final verses in unison:
Entren santos peregrinos, peregrinos (Enter, holy pilgrims), reciban este rincón (receive this corner), y aunque es pobre la morada, la morada (for though this dwelling is poor), os la doy de corazón. (I offer it with all my heart.)

Soon, everyone begins celebrating with traditional songs & prayers - just before an explosion of merry making that includes Christmas music, piñata bashing and sweet treats!
On Christmas Eve, Las Posadas culminates in all-out feasting at the Cena de Noche Buena when families gather for Christmas Dinner.

Especially in northern Mexico - and in Mexican communities in USA - the festivities may include a Christmas tree, lots of presents, or even a visit by Santa. However, Three Kings Day or Epiphany on January 6 remains a traditional day for gift exchanges in Central and Southern Mexico and throughout Latin America.

Yes indeed...let us never forget the true meaning of Christmas!
Happy Holidays everyone!
Cecilia Sinclair
Wonder Weather Woman

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