Recreating a journey

Sharing a religious and cultural experience with the students, faculty and community, California Lutheran University’s Latin American Student Organization (LASO) hosted and celebrated Las Posadas on Dec. 6.

According to Britanica Las Posadas celebrates “the journey that Joseph and Mary made from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a safe refuge where Mary could give birth to the baby Jesus. When they were unable to find lodging in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary were forced to seek shelter in a stable, where the Christ child was born.”

“The word ‘posadas’ means lodging and it is a religious celebration that runs from on Dec. 16 – 24. So in the case of  Las Posadas, there is a person dressed up as the Virgin Mary and another as Joseph and they go knocking on doors,” Spanish professor Rafaela Fiore said. “But instead of having these doors closed, the event adds a part where a particular house opens the door and offers food and beverages to the pilgrims.”

Co-Vice President of the LASO club Paulina Nunez was involved with putting the event together, organizing everything, preparing  food and having dancers come out and perform.

“I know here in Thousand Oaks there isn’t much of a Hispanic population so events like this don’t really happen,” Nunez said. “But events like this do happen in Oxnard. So I wanted to bring part of the Hispanic culture here so that people can become culturally aware.”

A few members from Cal Lutheran’s LASO club also participated in the event by dressing up as the Virgin Mary, Joseph and the angel. And not to forget the donkey that also contributed to the journey by helping the Virgin Mary and Joseph seek shelter.

“It seemed very festive and I liked the whole stopping and caroling every once in a while,” Matthew Jefferson, sophomore at Cal Lutheran who played Joseph, said.

Jefferson said he enjoyed the festive atmosphere of the event because of how many people attended.

“It was my first Las Posadas and I liked how good of a big turnout it was. You see actually how culturally and religiously important it was for the Latin culture and the community,” Jefferson said.

Cal Lutheran students, elementary and high school students and local families from the community gathered together for a journey from the Ahmanson Science Center to the Lundring Events Center.

Candles were passed around and the attendees helped light each other’s candles as they lined up behind the angel, Joseph, and the Virgin Mary, who rode the donkey and began their journey.

At each stop, certain members of the crowd had the opportunity to choose a song in English or Spanish for everyone to participate in singing as they all gathered around the nativity scene and moved to the next stop.

Once the journey was over, the attendees entered Lundring for a cultural experience where food, a raffle contest, a piñata and a live performance from Saint Peter Claver Church’s Aztec dancers awaited them.

“I hope by attending the event they get a chance to have a first-hand experience with what it looks like to attend a posadas [and] then be able to take home  the cultural aspects of it all,” Daniel Lawrence senior coordinator of multicultural programs and international student services said.

Lawrence said the event was a way to let the campus and community know that Multicultural Programs and International Student Services aren’t just inclusive but they are creating events like this to have students and community members actually see cultural and religious traditions.

Fiore emphasized the importance of embracing a tradition that’s not necessarily from the United States but from several members of the community around Cal Lutheran.

“This tradition is not just focused on students but families in general. So again, it is not an event just toward the students but the involvement of the students, and their families and the community around.” Fiore said. “There is that sense of community that you can build around a tradition like this, that invites people like our neighbors to come and share a meal together and to share a spiritual experience together.”

Kristen Cueva
Staff Writer
Published December 9th, 2015