Cape Gazette

Multicultural Christmas observed at Lewes Public Library

Jan 01, 2014
Photo by: Steven Billups Shown at the event in the children’s library are (l-r) Kristen Gramer, Lewes Library assistant director; Charito Calvachi-Mateyko, author, Delaware Heritage Commission member representing Latino community; Stephen Marz, director of the Delaware Public Archives and member of Delaware Heritage Commission; and Richard Carter, chair of Delaware Heritage Commission.

A special bilingual story time was held at Lewes Public Library Dec. 20. Steve Marz, director of the Delaware Public Archives, and Charito Calvachi-Mateyko read from her book "Navidad Latino Americana/Latin American Christmas."

They read stories and discussed holiday traditions of different Latin American countries during this special time of year. Local students dressed in traditional costumes and reenacted “Las Posadas.” Posada means lodging in Spanish. Celebrated each evening from December 16-24, they are, in fact, a novenario - nine days of religious observance based on the nine months that Maria carried Jesus in her womb. The posadas re-enacts Mary and Joseph's cold and difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of shelter.

Traditionally, a party is held each night in a neighborhood home. At dusk, guests gather outside the house with children dressed as shepherds, angels and sometimes, Mary and Joseph. An angel leads the procession, followed by Mary and Joseph or by guests carrying their images. The adults follow, carrying lighted candles. The "pilgrims" sing a song asking for shelter, and the hosts sing a reply, finally opening the doors to the guests and offering hot ponche, fried rosette cookies known as buñuelos, steaming hot tamales and other festive foods. The party ends with a piñata in the shape of the Christmas star.


Reading from the book "Navidad Latino Americana/Latin American Christmas” to students from Cape Henlopen School District’s English Language Learning classes in English and Spanish are Stephen Marz and Charito Calvachi-Mateyko. (Photo by: Steven Billups)
Another tradition of Las Posadas is sharing the gifts of words with the children. Speaking to the children is Ignacio Marin. He spoke of cherishing their culture and to be good students because the children are the future. (Photo by: Steven Billups)
Students from Cape Henlopen High School’s ELL classes dressed in traditional clothing from many Latin American countries are (l-r) Thaina Ventura, Venezuela; Jacqueline Ortiz, Colombia; Maria Sanchez, Costa Rica; Erika Soto, Honduras; Gloria Ruiz, Mexico; Yadira Flores, Guatemala; Jazmin Flores, Puerto Rica; and Belen Toledo, Mexico. (Photo by: Steven Billups)
Charito Calvachi-Mateyko leads the students in song as they prepare to enter the children’s library, reenacting Las Posada. (Photo by: Steven Billups)
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