The nine days before Christmas have special importance in Mexico. These days are called posadas, which means inns or lodgings. On each day, Mexicans reenact Mary and Joseph's search for lodgings on the first Christmas Eve. Two children carrying figures of Mary and Joseph lead a procession of people to a particular house. The people knock on the door and ask for lodgings. They are refused at first but finally are admitted.
After each posada ceremony, Mexicans feast and celebrate. Children enjoy trying to break the pinata, a brightly decorated paper or clay figure containing candy and small gifts. The pinata may be shaped like an animal, an elf, a star, or some other object. It is hung from the ceiling, and the children take turns trying to hit it with a stick while blindfolded. When someone breaks the pinata, the gifts and candy fall to the floor, and the children scramble for them.
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