Lety Diaz of Chino Hills is a woman of faith and tradition. For the past nine years, she has organized a Catholic procession at Christmas time called Las Posadas that winds through the streets of Los Serranos, with the help of her prayer group and neighbors.
This year’s event will take place Sunday, Dec. 15 to Monday, Dec. 23.
Participants will gather at a different designated home for nine consecutive nights and walk the neighborhood while they sing Spanish songs and look for a house to give them shelter. They are recreating the Nativity story where Jesus and Mary journey to Bethlehem looking for an inn to have their baby Jesus.
The word posada means “inn” or “shelter” in Spanish.
Before the procession begins, they will spend approximately 45 minutes praying the rosary and singing hymns at the designated house.
Led by children dressed as Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, they walk to pre-selected homes singing songs in Spanish and English while holding flameless candles and flashlights. They stop, gather in front of the house, and knock on the door.
When the door is opened, they sing “Peticion de Pasada” asking the owner to let them in. The owner of the house sings a response telling them he has no room.
The group will visit several houses per night but will only visit two or three if it’s very cold, Mrs. Diaz said.
Volunteers walk alongside the group for traffic control.
They return to the house for warm beverages, food and music, followed by a pinata breaking or a distribution of goodie bags.
On a cold rainy Wednesday morning, Mrs. Diaz offered Ponche Navideño, a traditional Mexican fruit punch made during the holidays, to her neighbors Mona Vick and Silvia Zaragoza as she spread her song sheets and nightly schedule on the kitchen table.
She said it is her passion to hand down the tradition she learned when she lived in Jalisco, Mexico.
The living room of her home on Bird Farm Road was decorated with a framed picture of Jesus that took up a sizeable portion of the wall, a large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe with yarn looped around nails crafted by an inmate in a prison in Mexico, a Nativity set and Christmas tree.
Ms. Vick said she has known Mrs. Diaz for 20 years and decided to participate by opening her home on Bird Farm last year. “It’s a very peaceful event,” said Ms. Vick. “It brings the neighbors closer together. People look out their windows when we walk by.”
She said Mrs. Diaz is the neighbor everybody wants to have. “She’s always helping others,” she said.
Mrs. Diaz, who has lived in Chino Hills for 22 years, said her husband Felipe sets up the chairs, canopy and heaters at their home during the procession so participants can return to a warm place for food and fellowship.
The Diaz’s have three children: Priscilla, Sahara, and Jose.
Silvia Zaragoza will also open her home and provide champurrado, a Mexican hot chocolate, and pozole, a pork and hominy dish. Others will bring tamales, tostados or pambazos, a Mexican bread dipped in a red pepper sauce filled with potatoes and chorizo.
When she’s not busy preparing for Las Posadas, Mrs. Diaz leads a prayer group called Virgen Peregrina de Guadalupe where her mission is to pray for families and help them in times of need by providing fundraisers or other forms of assistance.
Las Posadas schedule
The community is welcome to the processions that will begin at 7 p.m. as follows:
Sunday, Dec. 15, Mrs. Diaz’s home, 4520 Bird Farm Road
Monday, Dec. 16, 4664 Bird Farm Road
Tuesday, Dec. 17, the annex east of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, 14085 Peyton Drive
Wednesday, Dec. 18, 4526 Bird Farm Road
Thursday, Dec. 19, 15206 Monterey Ave.
Friday, Dec. 20, St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Maher Hall, 14085 Peyton Drive
Saturday, Dec. 21, 4550 Bird Farm Road
Sunday, Dec. 22, 15342 Carmelita Ave.
Monday, Dec. 23, 15203 Carmelita Ave.
Information: Mrs. Diaz, 606-9752.