Pedro Sandoval and Lizbeth Salcido provided a picture of Joseph and Mary that most people don’t see.
When many people imagine a scene of the nativity, they picture the couple and baby Jesus in a stable surrounded by animals.
But last Saturday night, Sandoval and Salcido re-enacted another scene — that of Mary and Joseph making the journey to Bethlehem and then trying to find a place to stay.
The scene was part of the Posada that took place in St. Patrick’s Auditorium in downtown Fremont. About 300 people attended the event hosted by Jóvenes Para Cristo (JPC) — Young Adults for Christ.
Posada, which in Spanish means “inn,” is a Christmas festival that dramatizes the search Joseph and Mary made for lodging.
Saturday’s Posada began with men, women and children gathered in front of a doorway to the auditorium. While holding small candles, the group sang a song and took part in a responsive reading.
After that, the door opened to the festively decorated auditorium. Large red paper poinsettias and gold tinsel adorned the large room. Tables with traditional foods of tamales, chalupas and tostadas lined tables near one wall.
A small band played “Silent Night” in between times when participants said the Rosary.
Some of the faithful knelt on the hard tile floor near a display of a nativity at the front of the room.
After that, guests lined up to fill their plates with the food.
Raffles for chips and candy — wrapped in cellophane and tied with bright ribbons — took place throughout the night.
Eventually, young girls in fancy dresses and boys were gathered into folding chairs not far from the stage.
In came Sandoval, dressed in a long brown robe, and Salcido in light blue.
No language barrier kept those familiar with the beloved Biblical account from understanding what happened next.
As per the Bible story, an angel comes to Mary to tell her that she will become the mother of Jesus. The angel later visits Joseph with news that he should take Mary as his wife.
A little extra was added to the presentation when one man dressed in red like the devil and another portraying the Archangel Michael got in a fight with plastic swords.
Children booed the devil (Jorges Avalos) and then cheered when he fell down and the archangel (Juan Avalos) put his foot on the devil’s chest.
The scene became hushed as Sandoval pulled a large stuffed toy resembling a donkey which was on wheels. Salcido dressed like Mary — great with child — sat on the back of the donkey.
In a scene depicting a sad, long, lonely journey, Sandoval went from door to door, knocking and repeatedly being turned away from any possibility of shelter.
Eventually, the couple made their way to the front of the auditorium and the stage decorated to resemble a stable.
The curtain closed and when it opened there was Mary and Joseph with little Genesis Sandoval in the starring role of baby Jesus.
Shepherds with stuffed toys that looked like lambs and Wise Men dressed in shiny garments came bearing gifts for Jesus.
And everyone — even Joseph — applauded.
More raffles followed as children waited for the chance to break colorful, candy-filled piñatas at the end of the evening.
“The Posada is finished when we break the piñatas,” said Jorge Flores, coordinator of Jóvenes Para Cristo.
Standing in the kitchen where piñatas were kept before that last event, Flores explained the meaning behind the Posada.
“We remember when Jesus came to us,” Flores said. “He came poor — with nothing. He didn’t have a fancy place.”
The song sung at the beginning of the Posada tells about Mary and Joseph looking for shelter. Candles held by the participants are significant, too.
“We believe the candles symbolize the light we receive from Jesus,” he said.
Flores said the food and presents given during the Posada are representative of the gifts brought to little Jesus.
“We share the food with the community to show the love for Jesus,” he said.
During the event, Flores hopes people will open their hearts and let Jesus come to them.
Flores enjoys the Posada.
“I like it, because I believe in Jesus and I’m celebrating his birthday,” he said.
Monica Sanchez, director of Hispanic ministry at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, enjoyed the Posada, too.
“I think the Posada went very well,” she said, adding, “My favorite part is watching the play and reflecting on how our Savior came into this world. Another great thing about it is spending time with people from our parish.”