The public is invited to a traditional family-oriented Christmas tree cutting and posada celebration on December 3.
A posada is a traditional Mexican celebration that occurs before Christmas and usually includes music, tamales, and gatherings with friends and neighbors. Three years ago, the Wilderness Workshop, Defiende Nuestra Tierra and the US Forest Service joined the tradition of cutting Christmas trees in the Roaring Forks Valley, and they will collaborate again this year to recreate the holiday.
“A posada is a perfect outdoor way to connect the Latino community with this tradition that we do,” said Omar Sarabia, director of Defiende Nuestra Tierra. “On the other hand, we can cut down the Christmas trees – that’s one of the best memories I have from when I was a kid. We want our Latino families to connect with our forest.”
Staff members from the Wilderness Workshop and the Forest Service will be at the event to hand out free Christmas tree cutting permits and information on where and how to cut down the trees. The event will be bilingual, and there will also be tamales and hot champurrado — a Mexican hot chocolate drink made with corn and cinnamon. Smokey Bear will also be on hand to teach families the best ways to choose and care for a Christmas tree.
While the event is open to the entire community, Wilderness Workshop Communications Director Grant Stevens said it’s a way to introduce individuals who may be new to the area to the opportunities available to them in the outdoors.
“For many of our Spanish-speaking community and people who just moved here, public lands are a new concept,” he said. “We’re so lucky to live around these public lands and people don’t realize they can go out and do things like cut down Christmas trees. That’s part of why this is so great.”
Sarabia added that only a small percentage of the Latino community benefits from the nearby forests, and the Wilderness Workshop and Defiende Nuestra Tierra hope to increase their ties to public lands.
The event has also grown in popularity since its inception. Last year Sarabia said that 36 permits were given and since each permit went to a family of four or five people, about 150 people participated in last year’s celebration. Sarabia is planning to double the number of tamales this year. The celebration was a success last year, Sarabia added, and having bilingual information as well as all the ingredients of a posada only lifted spirits further.
“It’s become a tradition for our community to have Smokey the Bear, good food, and the Forest Service will also provide information in Spanish — it’s essential to have information in your language,” Sarabia said. “Once you’re having fun with your family and eating, it’s even more fun.”
Stevens acknowledged the longstanding partnership Wilderness Workshop has had with the Forest Service and Defiende Nuestra Tierra, adding that Sarabia’s events are always fun for the whole family. Both Stevens and Sarabia said they expect this year’s celebration to be a success.
“It’s a great event for families and we try to connect this tradition to the whole community,” Sarabia said.
The event will take place on the Babbish Gulch Trail outside of Glenwood Springs from 10am to 2pm on December 3rd. Event organizers are asking those interested to RSVP so they can plan to have plenty of tamales, passes and drinks. Registration can be done on Facebook or online at the Wilderness Workshop website.