Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, December 14, 2001



Feast and be merry,
Mexican style

By Nadine Kam

Martha Sanchez of Mercado de la Raza will be cooking up 700 tamales and hoping that will be enough for those attending the 4th annual Posada, a Mexican Christmas celebration taking place 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

An even bigger draw will be the traditional holiday punch, made with fruits of the season. Her recipe includes apples, guavas, quince, Mexican cinnamon, hibiscus, prunes and tejocote, a fruit she describes as a cross between a guava and a plum, which is difficult to get here. The punch is non-alcoholic because there'll be a lot of children drinking from the punch bowl, but she said in Mexico it's typical for adults "to carry their own rum, brandy or cane alcohol on the side for the drink."

St. John's choral group performed in the courtyard of Honolulu Academy of Arts at last year's Posada.

Also featured will be the Mexican porridge champurrado, made of corn meal, cinnamon, sugar, milk and Mexican chocolate.

But posada is not only about food and drink. The event celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Christ. In Mexico, it begins on Dec. 16 and continues for nine evenings until Christmas Eve. Each night, friends form a procession traveling from house to house with lighted candles, as they seek sanctuary in a re-enactment commemorating Joseph's and Mary's search for lodging in Bethlehem.

The candlelight procession will begin at 5 p.m. in Thomas Square across from the academy, with stops at two tents filled with caroling schoolchildren, choirs and even a petting zoo donkey to recreate the ambience of the manger where Jesus was born.


Where: Honolulu Academy of Arts, 900 S. Beretania St.
When: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. tomorrow
Admission: $8 general; $3 for ages 6 to 12; free for age 6 and under
Call: Academy (532-8701); and Centro Hispano de Hawaii (941-5216)

After the procession, celebrants will enter the academy, where in addition to traditional Mexican foods, there will be piñatas for the children to break, releasing their stash of candy and toys.

Entertainment will be provided by Mariachi Amigos en Hawaii and Ballet Folklorico Mexicano Queztal.

Sanchez said she enjoys the posada's family-oriented and religious nature. "Here, Christmas is more commercial, but the feeling for posada is more like the way Americans celebrate Thanksgiving."

And in typical short-attention-span American style, posada so far is staged as a one-night-only affair in Hawaii.

"I wish it would be more," Sanchez said. "The reason they can do it in Mexico is because different people host the celebration over different nights. It's like an honor to host, and if there were other people here to do it, that would be great.

"Let me tell you, I cannot make 700 tamales for nine days!"

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