By Tomie dePaola
As Tomie dePaola so perfectly explains in the introduction of the book, "Las Posadas, an old Spanich custom which celebrated Mary and Joesph seeking shelter in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, stems from the word posada, meaning 'inn.' It began in Spain and came to the New World, first to Mexico and then to the American Southwest." The Night of Las Posadas tells the story of one of these celebrations as imagined by the author, taking place in a village in New Mexico. Sister Angie has been celebrating Las Posadas for many, many years, and although she cannot attend this year, it turns out to be the most memorable yet.
If you are not already familiar with Las Posadas, this book The Night of Las Posadas is the perfect way to introduce your young reader to this special tradition.
In this Issue
After their Las Posadas procession, the townspeople gathered to enjoy cookies and hot chocolate. In keeping with the setting of The Night of Las Posadas, we are featuring biscochitos, the official cookie of New Mexico and a tradtional Christmas treat. The origial recipe calls for anise seed, but to suit our particular tastes we left it out. Our first thought as we took our first bite of one of these cookies was, "This tastes like Christmas."
After searching for a Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe, the most traditional seemed to be the Abuleita Chocolate Drink, available at most grocery stores. To sum it up in one word: yum.
Biscochitos or Bizcochitos
Adapted from Visit Albuquerque's Biscochitos recipe.
- 3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and 1/2 cup sugar until creamy. Add egg and beat until combined.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture and beat until combined and dough forms. Cover and chill until firm, a 2 hours to overnight.
- When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir together remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll dough out on a floured surface to just under 1/2 inch thick. Using a floured 2 1/2- to 3-inch round cookie cutter (ours was a snowflake), cut out cookies. Dip cookies in cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Alternately, sprinkle each cookie generously with cinnamon-sugar before baking. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until tops are just firm.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
- 1 cake of Mexican hot chocolate mix (there are 4 cakes per box)
- 4 cups cold milk
- Place chocolate and cold milk in a blender and blend until chocolate is finely ground. Transfer to a medium sauce pan and place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and milk is hot.
For two twists on the paper bag lanterns featured throughout the book, check out these easy projects to celebrate the season of lights.
- Glue pieces of Christmas napkins to Mason jars to make Christmas Luminaries, then illuminate for a festive glow.
- Beautiful clear or colored Ice Luminaries from Design Mom (made from water ballons!) will light up the night.
To truly bring the book alive, provide your young reader bathroom tissue rolls and odds and ends of art supplies to make his or her own Las Posadas playset. Young readers could also use this activity to make their Nativity set, perhaps with a shoebox stable!
Las Posadas Playset
- Bathroom tissue rolls
- Constructin paper
- Markers or crayons
- Fabric scraps or tissue paper
- Rubber bands
- Large piece of paper for streets (optional)
- Cardboard boxes for buildings (optional)
- Paint tubes in a variety of desired colors. Let dry completely.
- Cut construction paper circles for faces and squares for hands. Let dry.
- Using crayons of marker, add faces.
(Try making two devils like those in the story.)
- Cut a piece of scrap fabric and attach with a rubber band. We also added a piece of gold wire with stars to Mary.
- To create a town, draw a street on a large piece of paper. Simple buildings can be fashioned from carboard boxes (ours are cracker boxes unglued, turned inside out and taped closed), and doors and windows can be added with crayons.
Related Activity: It's a Big Red Barn Raising
This video shows images of real Las Posadas celebrations. Enjoy!
By Tomie dePaola
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