lifestyle, travel This is Cozumel


Visitors arriving to Cozumel in the run up for Christmas have the chance to learn about two local seasonal traditions.

In true Christmas spirit, islanders celebrate with 9 nights of songs, called Las Posadas, while children recite their own carols and carry decorated branches, in a similar custom known as cantando la rama.

Las Posadas, or "the lodgings", is the name given to the 9 nights from December 16 to 24, when the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem is marked.

Diego de Soria, a Spanish Catholic monk living near Mexico CIty, established the festival in 1587 with the pope's approval.

Originally, the celebrations took part only in churches, but with time they spread to streets and homes too.

Nowadays, two groups take part, one stays inside a house and the other outside.

Taking turns to sing, those outside ask for lodging, and the group inside sings the reply.

Often adding to the voices are children cantando la rama, which literally means "singing the branch".

This tradition may have its origins in Veracruz, Mexico, with a mixture of Spanish, Native Mexican and Cuban-African influences.

Children brightly decorate leafy branches from trees, then carry them house to house as they sing Christmas songs in return for money or treats.

Each night in Cozumel, songs fill the air in residential areas as families and other groups walk from house to house reciting festive ditties.

Keep your ears open and you're in for a yuletide treat!