A Trip To Bethlehem

Bethlehem in Santa Clara CA


A new tradition has begun in our family.
One that came from a different religion than what I was taught growing up.

We heard about a Baptist church not far from where we live, that had recreated a life-size scene of the ancient city of Bethlehem on the night Christ was born.  Now before I continue, let me just say that religion has been a tough subject for me and I don’t intend on getting too much into detail about what I believe in.  I will say though that there are beliefs in the Catholic religion that I still hold near and dear to my heart, but as an adult with a mixed heritage, I find myself questioning some of those beliefs.  Now that I am on this quest to find a balance between my Mexican and American roots, I have found it easier to keep an open mind about it all as opposed to believing and sticking with just one belief system.

This new tradition comes from a source that my Mother (and pretty much my entire family) would have questioned and quickly rejected because of their strong faith in Catholicism.  After experiencing this new Christmas Holiday tradition, however, I think they might actually enjoy it next year (if I can get them to go).  It reminded me of what a celebration of Las Posadas might look like because that is exactly what it was (sort of).  After a long journey, Joseph and Mary look for a place to stay and rest.  Finally, after being denied a room from everyone, they find a family who offers them lodging in their stable.  Soon after, Jesus is born in that same stable and is visited and worshiped by the shepherds and three kings.  All this is played out in an elaborately staged 40,000 sq ft piece of property that is owned by the church with actual-size buildings.

When I watched the whole production play out, all I could think of was what La Virgen might have been thinking, what was she feeling, what were her fears, hopes, prayers?  I kept thinking of her.  She was a new Mother. Full of HOPE and LOVE for her newborn blessed baby.  Hoy es el Dia de La Virgen de Guadalupe and I can’t think of a better way to honor her than by sharing this experience because it touched my heart immensely.  Seeing so many people of all walks of life and religious affiliations celebrate this sacred Holiday at a Church they probably have never attended (myself included), reassured my faith in the meaning of Christmas and respect for La Virgen Morena, so full of LOVE.

Obviously, there is a huge difference in the way the two religions celebrate the night she gave birth to Jesus. One by a beautiful grand production offered to the public (the Baptist Church), the other by way of a nine-day celebration with family and friends (Las Posadas); which brings me back to my point in keeping an open mind when it comes to different religions and beliefs.  What if I hadn’t kept an open mind about going?  What if my hesitations got the best of me and ignored the fact that we are living in a Country with so much diversity?  We are not a Country with one Culture or Religion. We are one of many with all types of beliefs, hopes, prayers and dreams.  This experience reminded me of that, and that is why we plan on including a trip to our local Bethlehem next year as our new tradition for the Christmas season.

by Stephanie Chavez

Author & Content Creator for Spanglish Spoon.