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News - Celebrating Brubeck's "La Fiesta de la Posada"

Thursday, December 01, 2005
La Posada (Spanish)

Definition: Inn

Cultural Observance: Mexican Christmas tradition celebrating the Nine Days of La Posada (The Lodging) from 16 December to Christmas Eve. The yearly tradition commemorates the journey of Mary, Joseph, and the unborn Jesus as they traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem looking for lodging. On each of the nine evenings, town members and choristers carry torches, banners, or paintings of The Holy Family as they walk from home to home seeking shelter. At a pre-selected house, the door opens to all with an invitation for refreshments, caroling and dancing, and scriptural readings. The celebration re-enacts the ancient journey and symbolizes the welcome of Jesus into the home and one’s heart.

This is the holiday tradition that permeates Dave Brubeck’s Christmas cantata La Fiesta de la Posada. His upbringing on a cattle ranch in the Spanishfounded town of Concord, CA, meant that he was constantly surrounded by Mexican folk music. Blending this with his many jazz influences, Brubeck creates a vibrant yet familiar Christmas tradition in La Fiesta de la Posada, popular since its world premiere in 1975.

“The ethnic music,” notes Brubeck, “reflects those qualities I most admire in people...dignity in moments of tragedy, infectious high spirits in moments of joy, and an unshakable religious faith made evident in a strong sense of one’s own worth and a deep respect for the shared values of one’s group — family, church, village. These qualities, I think, are universal to people with a strong communal sense — an increasingly rare attribute in urban culture. It is this sense of sharing in an event which I have tried to capture in the simple retelling of the Christmas story.”

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