DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Mexican holiday tradition known as Las Posadas kicked off Monday at Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles.
The annual nine-day celebration, which takes place during the Christmas season throughout Latin America, features songs, prayer and a procession. The historic site has hosted the celebration since the 1930s.
Based on biblical narrative, Las Posadas is a centuries-old cultural custom where participants reenact Mary and Joseph's search for lodging on their trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem ahead of Jesus' birth. Every year the commemoration, which represents the nine months of the Virgin Mary's pregnancy, leads up to Christmas Eve.
Many in attendance Monday night wanted to learn more about the tradition and partake in the holiday spirit.
"I am feeling the spirit of Christmas in this place and just feeling the love and the attention that people are here to witness and be a part of and to share and just give generosity to each other," said Nohemi Flores.
Christina Mariscal-Pasten, a fifth-generation merchant on Olvera Street, said every element of the celebration helps the community maintain a connection to their ancestors.
"We have the opportunity to share with others what we do for Christmas and embrace it and invite people from all walks of live to join us," she said.
Festivities will include a children's piñata, live Christmas music, and a procession, which starts and ends at the Avila adobe, the oldest house in L.A. At the end of the procession, everyone is treated to pan dulce and champurrado, a hot maize and chocolate-based Mexican beverage.
The celebrations will start at 6:30 p.m. each night through Dec. 24.