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SBTHP presents Two of Santa Barbara's enduring holiday traditions -

Una Noche de Las Posadas and La Pastorela


December 3, 2013

Enjoy the holidays with Santa Barbara’s oldest Christmas traditions as the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) presents the 23rd annual Una Noche de Las Posadas on Friday, December 13 at 7:00 PM, and La Pastorela on Saturday, December 21 at 7:00 PM and Sunday, December 22 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM.  Both events begin at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. Share in the festivities that date back to the city’s earliest residents, celebrating the season with song, story, and merriment.


Las Posadas (The Inns) commemorates Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and their nine-day search for shelter. Una Noche de Las Posadas, a one-night version of the celebration, begins with traditional holiday songs performed in the candlelit Presidio Chapel by El Coro del Real Presidio de Santa Bárbara. Guests are invited to join the choir in a procession led by children portraying an angel, Joseph, and Mary as well as their small burro as they stroll and sing their way to State Street and into De la Guerra Plaza, in search of lodging. The procession ends at Casa de la Guerra as Joseph and Mary finally find shelter and attendees enjoy more singing, traditional refreshments and a piñata for children. This holiday tradition was brought to Santa Barbara by its Spanish and Mexican settlers and is still observed throughout the American Southwest as a religious and social celebration.


SBTHP and Los Pastores de Santa Barbara present the return of La Pastorela, one of Santa Barbara's original Christmas celebrations. La Pastorela is the tale of the pastores’ (shepherds) journey to Bethlehem to witness the birth of Christ. It is a story of good and evil.  The shepherds’ journey is fraught with temptations, distractions and peril as the devil tries to prevent them from reaching their special destination. While hundreds of unique versions of the play exist, this pastorela was transcribed and saved in the mid-nineteenth century by Pablo de la Guerra, the then-patriarch of the local de la Guerra family. Based on performances he witnessed in Santa Barbara, de la Guerra’s version is housed at the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library among the de la Guerra family papers. The performance is conducted entirely in Spanish and incorporates Early California song and dance.


La Pastorela is produced and directed by Elvira Tafoya of Los Pastores de Santa Barbara. Tafoya has been involved in La Pastorela performances in Santa Barbara since 1975 and has successfully collaborated several times with SBTHP to conduct performances in the Presidio Chapel. Keeping with tradition, Los Pastores has recruited amateur actors from the community to take on the ten principal roles in the play. Elvira Tafoya, an accomplished teacher and organizer in the Santa Barbara community notes: "We are excited to have Pastorela back at the Presidio. This project gives us the opportunity to keep a Mexican tradition alive and to share it with the entire community.”


Karen Schultz Anderson, Director of Education at SBTHP, says, " Una Noche de las Posadas and La Pastorela are wonderful projects that enables SBTHP to carry out its mission to ‘bring alive the history of Santa Barbara for present and future generations.’ It supports our educational efforts to share Santa Barbara’s diverse heritage with a broad audience, in a way that is both interesting and relevant in our lives today. We are delighted to continue this collaboration that contributes so much to the Santa Barbara community."






Una Noche de Las Posadas

Friday, December 13, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Presidio Chapel at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park
123 East Canon Perdido Street, Santa Barbara

Concludes at: Casa de la Guerra, 15 East De la Guerra Street, Santa Barbara

Free event


La Pastorela

Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM
Presidio Chapel at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park
123 East Canon Perdido Street, Santa Barbara
$5 - SBTHP Members & Children 12 & Under

$10 - Adults




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