You think it’s hard enough to find an apartment in Santa Barbara if you own a cat? Try a donkey, and a pregnant, soon-to-deliver mother. The “no room at the inn” story of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem is a central part of Christmas, and Una Noche de Las Posadas has been a Californian tradition among Latino communities for a very long time. Similarly, the mid-19th-century tale of good vs. evil known as “La Pastorela” (The Shepherds), follows the shepherds as they make their way to Bethlehem to worship the Christ child and are tempted by the Devil along the way. Both events are part of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historical Preservation’s Christmas weekend, and serve to remind us of our city’s older traditions long before we started borrowing from Charles Dickens and Victoriana.
Tonight’s “Las Posadas” (which means ‘the inns’ in Spanish), starts at El Presidio and turns into a procession that mimics Joseph and Mary’s journey, passing through downtown (including Paseo Nuevo and all the Christmas shoppers), finally ending at Casa de la Guerra, where the couple finally find a place to rest. But along the way, businesses and people will be telling them there’s no room and to move on. Now in its 20th year, it has become a Santa Barbara tradition.