21 --THE POSADA
DE LA VEGA HACIENDA
DECEMBER 22, 1821
almost fully recovered from his gunshot wound a couple of days before
the de la Vegas’ annual Posada held on Christmas Eve.
Although he wanted to help the other servants prepare the decorations
and the refreshment, both Diego and Moneta insisted that he rest. But no
one was more excited to attend this year’s Posada than Bernardo
because he intended to ask Maria Valletta, the head housekeeper of the
del'Amo hacienda in Monterey, to be his wife! Bernardo only told one
person regarding his plans and that was his friend and master, Diego,
whom he trusted more than anyone else was in the world. How he managed
to keep his engagement secret for the past six months was beyond Diego's
understanding, for Diego truly understood how much hacienda servants
Alvarez and his wife, Doña Gloria Fages Alvarez y Ramon; his daughter,
Maria Alonda, and his newborn son, Carlo Alfredo Ramon, were invited to
the Posada. However, Joaquin decided that he would have more fun
participating in the Nativity Play of the Posada by helping the children
in the staging of their procession to the de la Vegas’ Nacimiento,
rather than just watching it. Joaquin told his friend that this
was the least that Diego he could do for him since Joaquin ‘was
wounded in the line of duty’ on his behalf.
should have been here while Zorro was dueling with Senor del'Amo. He had
no idea that I was impersonating you. That is because, of course, I am
such a consummate actor! " Joaquin bragged as he puffed out his
Moneta giggled to
herself and then asked Joaquin’s wife, Doña Gloria, “Is he always
“Oh, sí! This
is a mild stretching of the truth, for tonight, Doña Moneta, he is
among amigos y familia! When Joaquin and his entourage are
entertaining His Excellency, the Governor of California, that is when
one can observe some genuine ‘hamming‘...I mean acting!”
chuckled behind their silk fans.
But Don Alejandro
agreed wholeheartedly with Don Joaquin‘s assessment of his
performance. “Diego, Ricardo gave no indication that he was not
speaking with you in person. He is to be commended for doing a superb
job. "I raise my glass of Jerez to you, Don
Exactly so!" said Don Diego. “I also propose a toast to the brave
and generous El Zorro, the Fox. It was good of Señor Zorro to make
certain that I traveled safely past San Gabriel -- and Don Ricardo -- to
meet with his father, Don Juan in Monterrey. Thanks to the Fox, we were
able to see the Governor! As you know I was en route back to our
hacienda when my father’s courier told me that Zorro had defeated
del’Amo and Sergeant had imprisoned him in Los Angeles.”
“Praise God that
both the Governor and Judge Vasca agreed with you and Don Juan del’Amo
regarding Don Ricardo‘s mental instability, my son. I was particularly
happy when the Governor ordered Don Ricardo to serve his sentence in a
special facility in Mexico City!”
Don Joaquin joined
in the salute to the Dark Knight. "Viva El Zorro!” He looked
meaningfully at his childhood friend. “You know something, Diego, if I
were Zorro, I would have slit Don Ricardo's throat.”
"But you do
not understand Señor Zorro, Don Joaquin.” Don Alejandro explained.
“He is a man of great honor and courage. I would not have expected
anything less. If he had killed Ricardo it would have been murder!”
The elder de la Vega stated in a tone that brooked no opposition.
observed his father for several long moments before offering his
opinion. “Absolutely true! He said with the greatest
fervor. “If Zorro had killed Ricardo it would have been an execution.
The good people of California have always believed that the Fox would do
the right thing. Besides Zorro realized that eliminating Ricardo
del’Amo was not worth losing both his honor and his eternal soul!”
looked up at her husband with love radiating from her coffee brown eyes.
“Joaquin, as everyone knows, El Zorro is indeed a man of the highest
shrugged. “Señoras y Señores, I concede defeat! El Zorro is truly a
man of the greatest integrity! Then, I propose another toast to the Fox:
“Peace and long life to him! VIVA EL ZORRO!”
his or her glasses of Jerez high in the air. “VIVA EL
Joaquin informs me that you tried to strike Ricardo? Is this true?”
Diego asked in feigned revulsion.
“Of course I
did, querido mio! That raton was about to
hit your father and ended up wounding poor Joaquin! After all, I am
Moneta Munoz de la Vega y Esperon and I despise bullies!”
Don Diego silently
returned her statement with a gaze that promised a very private and
delightful celebration when they were alone.
Doña Moneta’s personal servant, Angelina Torres, said as she
entered the patio. “Señora de la Vega, it is time for your final
Moneta nodded “Sí,
Angelina, I am coming. “Señores, I have this one last chance to try
on my brand new frock, which I had especially made for our Posada this
year. My how time flies! Christmas Eve is the day after tomorrow!”
“Of course, my
dearest,“ said Don Diego as he bent down to kiss her hand. "I am
counting the minutes and seconds until later tonight."
Doña Moneta is not the only one who has things to prepare for our
fiesta. Besides, these later hours are strictly for young people! Con
permiso.“ Don Alejandro bid everyone good night and gradually everyone
else drifted off to bed.
DECEMBER 24, 1821
ES NOCHE-BUENA. Y NO ES NOCHE DE DORMIR
IS THE GOODNIGHT; THEREFORE, IT IS NOT MEANT FOR SLEEP].
or Christmas fiesta, began as a Roman Catholic tradition in 16th
century Spain and was introduced in 1587 to the Indians in Mexico by
missionaries. This fiesta commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph to
Bethlehem for a place to stay so that the Virgin Mary could give birth
to the Christ Child. Posadas officially begin on December 16th, and
continue through Christmas Eve, for a total of nine nights, said number
representing the nine months the Blessed Virgin carried Jesus in her
The de la Vegas
annually built a Nacimiento, which is a recreation of the
Nativity scene. Most of their Christmas decorations for the Nativity
scene were made of clay and often filled two or three of the
hacienda’s rooms. The de la Vegas’ statues of the Holy Family, the
Three Magi, angels and the remainder of the other figures were over a
century old, as Don Alejandro’s father had the statues made in Seville
Crescencia and her
household staff decorated all of the corridors and walls of the de la
Vegas’ hacienda with evergreens and lamps. Great swags of white, gold
and silver satin and silk were also hung with pine sprigs everywhere,
from the rear entrance to the hacienda stables to the patio gates. She
interwove imported tiny silver bells with the staircase cloth of gold
decorations. In the warm soft glow from their hacienda fashioned
candles, the bells shone like stars in natural moonlight. Moneta and
Crescencia also ordered the servants to hang the de la Cruz heirloom
tapestries in the sala. Don Alejandro’s mother-in-law, Alicia Rosa
Castile y de la Cruz, gave him and Doña Bethia, Diego’s mother, a
pair of silk tapestries, one depicting the Nativity and the other
showing the angels announcing the Christ Child’s birth to the
shepherds in Bethlehem.
On Christmas Eve,
which is also known as La Noche Buena, “the Good
Night,” the most important Posada occurs. An image of
the Infant Jesus is placed in the nacimiento manger. This
year the youngest child of Don Joaquin and Doña Gloria, little Carlo
Ramon Alvarez, would play the Christ child. The two local people who
carry the Infant Jesus and place him in the manger are called the
At dusk, Don
Joaquin ordered the Posada procession to commence. He had a large group
of children dressed as angels lead the procession. Everyone
participating in the Posada carried lit candles. As is
customary, the boys and girls in the procession were richly dressed in
their silver and golden satin angel costumes, with plumes of white
feathers. Their clothes were festooned with diamonds and pearls, and
they wore fine white satin shoes embroidered in gold.
carried statues of Mary and Joseph, which were borne on a litter
decorated with sprigs of pine, followed by more children dressed as
angels. The remainder of the children of Los Angeles came next, then the
adult population, and finally, the musicians.
However, the patio
gate of the de la Vega hacienda were locked to prevent the Holy
Family’s and the pilgrims’ entry. Everyone in the Procession began
begging for lodging for the Holy Family. Don Joaquin instructed them to
sing these verses:
En el nombre del
Os pido posada
Pues no puede
Mi esposa amada.
[In the name of
I ask you for
Because She cannot
My beloved Wife.]
And the de la
Vegas, led by Diego’s strong baritone, responded in song:
Aqui no es mesón,
Yo no puedo abrir
No sea algún
[This is no inn,
keep on going.
I will not open
in case you are a
The pilgrims kept
singing more verses along this theme, and finally, one of the children
called out to Don Diego:
“Señor and Señora
de la Vega! I know you would open your door more quickly if the person
asking for shelter were EL ZORRO!”
The crowd roared
with laughter, and several minutes passed before everyone regained their
composure. Finally, Don Diego and Doña Moneta chorused:
Reciban este rincón;
On de esta pobre
Sí no de mi corazón.
Not of this humble
But of my heart.]
Then they both
flung open the patio gate, and all the ”pilgrims” entered the
hacienda. Don Alejandro, Don Diego, and Doña Moneta distributed aquinaldos,
or bags filled with cookies, candies, and special toys to each
child. However to the children, the highlight of the posada was a dance
held after the arrival of the baby Jesus - when Don Joaquin and Doña
Gloria placed their baby in the crib.
Diego’s hand. “Soon,” she whispered, “we shall fill the crib in
our room with our own son!”
Her handsome caballero
laughed. “You can count on that, mi preciosa! However,
are you aware that I shall not be content to fill the crib only once?”
The merry look in his hazel eyes deepened into desire and Moneta
“How can a wife
dare refuse such a wonderful request from her esposo amado?”
she teasingly replied. He kissed the top of her head and whispered.
“Señora de la Vega, the night is still young, and ...”
Both Don Alejandro
and Don Cornelio discreetly [or so they thought] cleared their throats.
“Ah, Diego, it is time for you and your wife to initiate the dancing
portion of our Posada. Soon it will be time for Midnight High Mass, and
you know how impatient the children are to break their Christmas pinatas!”
Don Alejandro noted.
father, I had not forgotten. I was unavoidably detained..”
Don Cornelio and
all three de la Vegas laughed heartily.
Diego, I have but one regret.” Don Alejandro said, fighting back tears
as he held up his hand so that he could finish his statement. “Your
mother, Doña Bethia Elizabeth should be here tonight to participate in
our family’s happiness!”
Diego and Moneta
traded wistful looks. “As should also my wife, Doña Carmela,” Don
Cornelio quietly replied.
Don Cornelio, you forget! They are and always shall be with us in
spirit,” Diego said firmly.
Cornelio, Don Alejandro and Moneta chorused.
Diego ordered the
musicians to commence playing as he danced the opening song with Moneta.
After they finished dancing, he told everyone that he had a very
Everyone, please listen. I am very happy to announce that my mozo,
Bernardo, has asked the lovely Maria Valletta, of the del’Amo
hacienda, to be his wife! Please join me in congratulating the lucky
Both Bernardo and
Maria were very embarrassed, but tears of joy shown in their eyes. He
thanked the de la Vegas for his employment and friendship over the years
as Diego translated his sign language for their guests.
Don Alejandro was
stunned. He had no idea that Bernardo was romantically involved with
anyone. When he was able to pull Bernardo aside, he whispered to
Bernardo, [this is rather sudden, is it not?]
shook his head. [No, Don Alejandro], he signed with his
hands, I had been courting Senorita Valletta for the past year.]“
“BY ALL THE
SANTOS!” Don Alejandro exclaimed. “Why am I always the last one to
know when something important happens around here? Never mind I wish the
both of you eternal happiness!”
continued to dance far into the night while the children contented
themselves with breaking open the pinatas, which of course, were filled
with candies and toys. Everyone enjoyed the fantastic food the de la
Vegas always prepared for their Posadas. Their guests were served bunuelos,
which were very thin fried pastries covered with sugar; tamales, colacion,
a mixture of different candies, and ponche, fruit
At 11:30 p.m.,
Jorge Paco and several other of the de la Vega servants began ringing
bells to summon everyone to attend Midnight High Mass. The de la Vegas
retired to their private chapel with a few invited guests who were able
to fit inside the small church. A large number of the townspeople
remained behind the hacienda where Don Alejandro ordered a tent
constructed so that Father Felipe’s assistant, Fray Luis, could say
Mass for them.
After the Mass,
the Diego and Moneta said goodbye to the townspeople and gathered in the
hacienda for dinner with Don Alejandro, Don Cornelio, Bernardo, his
fiancée, Maria, Don Alfredo Alvarez, and his son, Joaquin, with his own
wife and two children. Diego and Moneta also invited Don Nacho and Doña
Luisa Torres, Don Benito his wife, Doña Elena, to partake of their
traditional Christmas dinner. This meal was also known as Pavo
Trufado de la Navidad, a Christmas turkey served with truffles.
Don Diego again led the singing of Christmas carols until the wee hours
of the morning.
broadly. "I am very tired Diego, do you think that we can delay
opening our presents until after attending Christmas Day Mass in our
Diego held her
face in his hands. “Are you feeling all right, querida mia?"
"It has been
a long time since I have attended such an elaborate Posada! I am simply
"Of course. I
shall join you in bed as soon as possible."
As soon as Moneta
left, Don Alejandro poured two very small glasses of Jerez
for them. "Diego," asked his father, " one
thing that you mentioned several weeks ago and never explained to me was
that Zorro found a certain document in Don Ricardo’s rented hacienda.
I am curious. What type of document was it?"
" It was an affidavit stating that Ricardo was the biological
father of Moneta’s child. He intended to claim the child as his own if
the child were male as a hijo naturale and then only when the
male child reached the age of thirty-five!
Don Alejandro was
incredulous. "And Don Ricardo, if he had continued at his former
rate of squandering his father’s fortune, would have been exhausted
the estate’s funds long before then.
father.” Diego glumly replied.
“I wish I could
say that I am surprised by anything that Ricardo del’Amo does, but
this.... I am revolted by the evil in his soul!” Don
Alejandro yawned again. “Time for me to retire. He threw his arms
around his son and said “ Feliz Navidad!"
" Yes, father, and Feliz Navidad to you also!"