For Hispanics, Posadas is literally the "inn holiday." On December 16 and continuing every night until Christmas, individual neighborhoods reenact Mary and Joseph's search for shelter in Bethlehem. Groups of people knock on door after door and are repeatedly turned away until the host family of the evening invites them in to celebrate.
As on most festival days in Mexico, the streets are decorated with bright, beautiful pierced-paper banners called "papel picado." To make them, Mexican artisans use special tools ("fierritos") to pierce as many as 50 layers of tissue paper at a time. Here's how we made a simplified but equally festive version of this classic Mexican decoration.