Las Posadas is a Christmas celebration that commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph into Bethlehem and their search for lodging in an inn ("posada" is Spanish for "inn"). A reenactment of the journey in the form of a procession, followed by a celebration and the breaking of a pin~ata, is a holiday tradition in parts of Latin America, the Southwestern U.S. and, yes, the Los Angeles area. Here are some places where you can get in on the act.
Fiesta Navidad is a Christmas concert with mariachi music and folklorico dancing that uses the posada travel motif to journey through the musical styles of the various regions of Mexico. The performance features the legendary Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano and the Ballet Folklorico Ollin. El Camino College, Torrance. $26 and $22 (children under 12, $8). (310) 329-5345. 8 p.m. Also Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Orange County Center for the Performing Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. $15 to $38. (714) 553-2422.
Immanuel Presbyterian Church holds its Neighborhood Posada in Spanish and English beginning at 4 p.m. The public can join a procession through Wilshire Center led by two children dressed as Mary and Joseph. Afterward there will be food, Mexican Christmas punch, pin~atas and singing at the church. Free. Families are asked to bring a dish to share. 3300 Wilshire Blvd. at Berendo Street, two blocks west of Vermont Avenue. (213) 389-3191.
Or, in the downtown area, Las Posadas is celebrated nightly through next Wednesday on Olvera Street. For nine consecutive nights, the journey is being reenacted with a candlelight procession led by merchants, with different shops (puestos) serving as the inns where the couple sought lodging. For the first eight nights of the procession, shelter is being refused. But on Christmas Eve, shelter will be granted, symbolically welcoming the birth of Jesus. The public can join the procession, which begins each night at Avila Adobe and winds its way around Olvera Street. The procession will be followed by the traditional breaking of a pin~ata in the Plaza. Procession begins at 7:30 p.m. Avila Adobe, 10 Olvera St. (213) 628-7833.
Also on Olvera Street, don't miss Casa La Golondrina's "Las Posadas Fiesta Dinner." Located inside the 1855 Pelanconi House, one of the first brick buildings in L.A., the Casa La Golondrina restaurant is a delight. The fiesta dinner (now in its 67th year) is presented nightly through Wednesday and includes Aztec dancers, magicians, marionettes and more. Today at 7 p.m.; Friday-Sunday at 7:30 p.m.; Monday-Wednesday, 7 p.m. Adults, $28; children 10 and under, $17. Reservations required. W-17 Olvera St. (213) 628-4349.
Go to Costa Mesa for a performance of "La Posada Magica" at South Coast Repertory. The play tells the story of a young girl, Gracie (Crissy Guerrero), whose baby brother has just died. When the posada comes calling at her door, she doesn't feel like making merriment and instead throws the celebration into chaos. South Coast Repertory Second Stage, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Tonight, Friday and Monday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 3 and 8 p.m.; Sunday and Wednesday (Christmas Eve), 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. Ends Dec. 24. $10-$25. (714) 708-5555.
Back in L.A., Antonio's restaurant is offering traditional posadas holiday desserts throughout the month of December including tamales dulces (sweet corn tamales laced with cinnamon and honey), bunuelos (flaky snowflake cookies drizzled in cinnamon, sugar and honey) and other tempting treats. 7470 Melrose Ave. (213) 655-0480. Restaurant hours, Tuesdays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.