Posadas, Piñatas y Champurrado

The first time that I was exposed to a posada was during a visit to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico when I was around 10 years old. Since then, my sister and I initiated the tradition of having a posada in our neighborhood.  We made a pact that our posadas would be as traditional as the one we participated in Mexico, all I can say is that we tried.  We had them for years at my parents’ house and every year the attendance would get larger.  The most rewarding part was seeing the children get so excited over their candy bags and the piñatas.

Posadas are a way to reenact Mary and Joseph's cold and difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of shelter (posada).  Every night is filled with both religious and social celebrations.  In our home, the evening started with the group singing outside the house asking for posada (shelter) until shelter was offered and that was when the religious part ended and the party begun!

 In Mexico, every neighbor takes turns to host a posada party a different night from December 16th and it lasts until December 24th when Jesus is born.  There is plenty of food and drinks with candies and fruit for the children. We had a hard time convincing our neighborhood to have one every night, therefore, our home was the only one to host every year. We didn’t mind at all, as a matter of fact we loved teaching people the traditions of my parents’ home country.  Traditionally, “boys and girls dressed in silver and gold robes to make up the procession, followed by the adults and musicians. Everyone sung melodious songs as they walked slowly along, carrying their lit candles. When they reached the house, the group divided in two. One half remained outside and begged for shelter from the other half, which was inside the house. The doors were then opened, the religious part of the celebration ended, and the fun begun. The happy end to each posada has always been the pinata.”

Our tradition has always been to serve champurrado and tamales.  In the spirit of the posada season, I wish to share with you the famous champurrado recipe.  Just in case, Champurrado is a special hot chocolate thickened with masa and flavored with piloncillo and aniseeds.  When I say special, I mean the famous “Chocolate Abuelita”.  Here is the recipe and enjoy!

1/2 cup fresh masa (corn dough) or 1/2 cup masa flour (masa harina) mixed with a 1/4 cup hot water to blend
2 1/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 disk Mexican Chocolate (Chocolate Abuelita, Chocolate Ibarra, etc.)
3 tablespoons piloncillo, chopped or 1/3 cup brown sugar plus 2 teaspoons molasses
1/4 teaspoon crushed aniseeds (optional)

Place the water and the masa into the jar of a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a medium sized saucepan.

Add the milk, chocolate, piloncillo (or sugar, molasses combination) and the aniseeds if you wish to use them.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking with a molinillo or whisk until the chocolate and sugar is melted and well-blended.  Strain the mixture through a medium sieve (optional) and serve hot, in mugs

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo Long Beach!!!

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