Christmas in Bolivia

Bolivia is a landlocked country located in central South America. It is bordered by Brazil to the north and east, Argentina and Paraguay to the south, Peru to the west and Chile to the southwest.

Christmas in Bolivia

Christmas Celebrations in Bolivia :

In Bolivia, Christmas is one of the most important holidays and it continues to be rich in tradition and deeply religious. Many Bolivians consider themselves Christian with 95 percent of the population being Roman Catholic and the remaining are Protestants. However, the indigenous heritage of the country makes for interesting traditions, many of which are unique in South America. Here it is summer season during Christmas holidays perphap it the hottest time of the year. Most families set up a nativity scene in their homes and churches usually have very large ones somewhere outside the main door. Nativity scenes, especially at churches, consist of animals, shepherds, angels, a manger and baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Three Kings (Wisemen) placed atop a bed of moss or straw or inside a stable.

Christmas Tree at Mirador de Laikacota in La Paz, Bolivia

On Christmas Eve (Víspera de Navidad) church bells ring to call families to attend the “Misa del Gallo” a Catholic mass that takes place quite late at night, usually at midnight, and lasts possibly into the early morning.

Families gather to feast together at midnight after Mass, others on Christmas Day. The families get together once more during Christmas day to enjoy each others’ company while friends gather in the evening for a hug and greeting and to exchange gifts and best wishes. So Christmas is full of camaraderie, joy and worship, a time for gathering, peace and love. The meals usually feature picana (a soup) traditionally on Christmas. The table is also set with salads, roast pork (lechón) or roast beef, and an abundance of tropical fruit. In Santa Cruz many people eat turkey or roast chicken at this time.

For the same reasons, the table is often adorned with fresh flowers. At midnight the families toast with champagne or wine and eat taffy-filled wafer cookies called “turrón”. Others drink a beverage similar to eggnog called cola de mono. On Christmas morning it is customary to drink hot chocolate and eat buñuelos (a pastry drizzled with syrup).

The families get together once more during Christmas day to enjoy each others’ company while friends gather in the evening for a hug and greeting and to exchange gifts and best wishes. So Christmas is full of camaraderie, joy and worship, a time for gathering, peace and love.

The “canastón” is another important Christmas tradition. It is a simple, but usually large, basket filled with the basic food staples such as ketchup and mustard, bread, jam, crackers and cookies, sugar, rice, flour, and sometimes chocolates or candy. These canastones are almost never decorated, except for a clear plastic covering closed off with a large red bow. A “panetón” (a sweetbread with raisins and nuts) and a bottle of “cidra” (sparkling cider) are included.

An unusual thing about Christmas in Bolivia is that exactly at midnight on Christmas Eve, all through the city fireworks are set off. The sky also lights up with “mata suegras” (mother-in-law-killers) which are tiny sticks of dynamite, slightly larger than the more traditional tiny firecrackers.

In the city of La Paz, many children walk the streets to play Christmas carols with native instruments like pinquillos (traditional flute), charangos (small, 5-stringed guitar) and tarkas (square flute) or others they have made themselves.

In Bolivia, grand Christmas celebrations often take place in highly populated cities like Santa Cruz, El Alto, Cochabamba, Sucre, Oruro, Tarija, Potosí, Sacaba, etc

We Wish all Readers Merry Christmas 2017 & Prosperous New Year 2018 !!!