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Santa Barbara’s Una Noche de Las Posadas keeps tradition alive

For close to 30 years, folks have been gathering at the Presidio Chapel to celebrate one of Santa Barbara’s oldest and most popular Christmas traditions.

Una Noche De Las Posadas is a 400-year-old Hispanic tradition.

“This is something that has been going on in Santa Barbara since the 1800’s,” said Luis Moreno, Choir Director.

Santa Barbara’s 27th annual reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem is made possible by the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation and countless volunteers.

“We go to the church and we do songs and stuff,” said Koa Zertuche, who played Joseph in the El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park Chapel’s celebration.

Koa’s sister, Kanani says her favorite part of the evening was riding atop a small donkey as she took on the honorary role of Mary. Their sister Kaianna joined in too, as an angel.

“During Christmas time we celebrate three main journeys that happened. The journey of Mary and Joseph, looking for shelter. The journey of the shepherds and the journey of the three kings,” said Moreno.

The celebration began with traditional Spanish holiday songs performed by candlelight. The congregation was at capacity and overflowed out the door. The large group of community members gathered for a procession down State Street, following behind Mary, Joseph and their small burro.

“We go to knock on doors and try and find shelter and people say no, no go away and there’s songs that are sung,” said Moreno.

This cultural holiday tradition was brought to Santa Barbara by it’s early Spanish and Mexican settlers and is observed throughout many Latin American communities.

“When we’re going up and down State Street you can hear people whispering, mom, dad what’s that about and people are telling the story and that’s a beautiful thing, keeping the tradition alive,” said Moreno.

“We go to Bethlehem and have baby Jesus,” explains young Koa.

The group strolled and sung in downtown Santa Barbara for about an hour before gathering at Casa de la Guerra

“We end up at the Casa de la Guerra after going up and down State Street and finally someone lets us in,” said Moreno.

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