Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Viva La Posada y Esquivel!
Living here in California, we’re very aware of our Mexican cultural history. First they owned it, then we owned it, now we share it. One very cool part of the Mexican culture is La Posada.
In 6th grade I was asked by my former 4th grade teacher to read about La Posada to the gathered students and parents at our schools’ annual Christmas Show. At a borrowed Jr. High School gymnasium, I spoke at a microphone for the first time in front of an audience. With the reverberation in the room I realized I was suddenly sounding like Linus from “A Peanuts Christmas” and found it pretty cool. I’m assuming the 4th graders were acting out the Posada ritual behind me but I couldn’t see them and was too focused on reading my script. What I did learn is that for 9 days prior to Christmas Eve families gather to re-enact the travels of Mary and Joseph in their quest for lodging for the birth of baby Jesus. For each of those 9 nights a different family (representing the innkeepers) invites their parading neighbors (Los Peregrinos) in for a party. On Christmas Eve, the re-enactors/party revelers have one big final bash and place the baby Jesus in the manger. They then exchange gifts. The gift exchange bit they borrowed from us gringos.
Besides Mexican food, I think La Posada would be a great Mexican tradition to adopt.
Another cool Mexican import is Esquivel!. Juan Garcia Esquivel was a child prodigy who taught song composition and arranging at an early age and led his own orchestra by time he was 17. Beginning in 1958, Esquivel! (I love the exclamation point!) came to Hollywood to make records. A master at stereo recording, Esquivel! once separated his orchestra into two parts and recorded them in separate studios a block apart using closed-circuit television to conduct them.
Esquivel! recorded a bunch of cool Christmas songs but this is my favorite:
Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Esquivel!
Herb Alpert-influenced George Garabadian and the Tijuana Brass bring us:
Parade if the Wooden Soldiers
Augie Rios had a hit with:
Donde Esta Santa Claus
and lastly, Mel Blanc and his politically incorrect Speedy Gonzalez declare...
The Hat I Got for Christmas is Too Big