The Mexican Consulate in Milwaukee hosted its first Las Posadas event on December 14, to welcome the public and usher in the cultural holiday tradition celebrated in Mexico from December 16 to 24.

Consulado de México en Milwaukee has provided much needed services for the Wisconsin region since it opened in August 2016, such as legal advice, passports, consular IDs, and voter registration cards. In an effort to expand its social involvement, the Mexican government authorized its consulates worldwide to celebrate Las Posadas with their local communities.

“The ceremony has a lot to do with the Catholic Church’s interpretation of the arrival of Christ. And it is interwoven with some Mexican traditions, which are from our pre-Hispanic roots,” said Julián Adem Díaz de León, Mexican Consul General. “Our idea was to offer people, especially Hispanic families, a chance to relive the traditions of what they did in their childhood.”

Las Posadas was brought to Mexico from Spain by missionaries in the 1500s, and has remained a meaningful Christmas tradition. The term translates to “the inns,” but it figuratively refers to the shelter that Mary and Joseph sought on their way to Bethlehem. During the nine evenings preceding Christmas Eve, groups of family and friends will gather to reenact Mary and Joseph’s journey.

“What I remember most about this tradition as a boy in Mexico is the chance to break the piñata. Anyone who can do that feels like a hero. Then there was the rush to get all the candies and peanuts that spilled out,” said Cónsul Adem Díaz de León.

A piñata is frequently used in Las Posadas celebrations. Once the hollow papier-mâché sculpture is broken and the falling candy has been collected, family, friends, and neighbors return inside to eat and drink. One indulgence is a Mexican Christmas drink called Ponche con Piquete, a hot fruit punch containing a spicy blend of seasonal fruits, cinnamon, and a shot of brandy or rum.

The Milwaukee office previously sponsored Día de Muertos – Day of the Dead – festivities at the Walker’s Point Center for the Arts (WPCA). This holiday gathering at the Consulate provided an opportunity for people from Hispanic societies across the region to mingle and network. Many individuals and organizations have been working for decades with the Spanish speaking community, so Las Posadas was chance for the diplomatic mission to recognize the very important partners who support the Consulate’s work.

The Consulate also highlighted programs for the Mexican diaspora who are interested in maintaining links to Mexico, especially with textbooks through the Ministry of Education, and partnerships with resources like the Milwaukee Public Library on Mitchell Street.

“The efforts are designed to help children in particular continue to read in Spanish and keep their traditions,” said Cónsul Adem Díaz de León. “But at the same time, we realize the importance of integration because of the opportunities in America. The result creates a growing bilingual population that provides innumerable benefits to Mexican and non-Mexican communities.”

The Las Posadas event also reflected the Consulate’s efforts to become better known among the non-Mexican population of Milwaukee.

“We want to develop a cultural presence not only towards Hispanics, but also to the general population so we can be of service for economic promotion – like tourism or commerce. Wisconsin’s dairy industry hires a lot of Mexicans, and is interested in negotiations with trade and expansion in Mexico. But they often are stuck or unsure about the process. That is where we want to facilitate,” added Cónsul Adem Díaz de León.

Lee Matz

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