Mexico comes to Barkingside for Christmas

A little piece of Mexico came to Barkingside on Sunday with the annual Posada procession which saw wooden nativity figures paraded through the streets.

Posada originated in Spain but has been practiced in Mexico for more than 400 years.

The wooden figures started their journey at Manna House, High Street and, accompanied by almost 50 people singing carols, were carried at the head of the parade.

They were also joined by Mayor of Redbridge Cllr Muhammed Javed and Ilford North MP Lee Scott.

Manna House was gutted by a fire in June and reopened its drop in centre on Monday of last week. It is expected to be fully open in Janurary.

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Charlie Musker, 60, manager of Manna House, said: “Come rain or shine we do it. Deep down people really do want to celebrate the real reason for Christmas - because of the fire we are not as organised as we usually are. It’s been a bit hectic.”

Eleven figures from the nativity were blessed outside Manna House at about 3pm before being carried to the New Fairlop Oak pub, Fencepiece Road, Barkingside.

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They will spend 24 hours in 20 different shops in the run up to Christmas.

Mr Musker said: “It’s in a different shop each day. It brings together people of different faiths and some of no faith at all.

“The shop keepers have been talking to each other when they hand it over when usually they don’t.”

Manna House had remained closed since the fire and volunteers were using Barking Methodist Church, Fremantle Road, Barkingside for their drop in centre.

“It’s been fine, our regulars have found us but we were not picking up people who usually just pop in for a tea and a chat,” he added. “That’s what we’re here for.”

The shop has about 30 volunteers some of who gathered back at Manna House on Monday to mark its reopening.

“It was wonderful as we had about half the volunteers come in just to see it, so that was good, if a bit crowded.”

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