Guatemala officially the Republic of Guatemala is a country in Central America. It is bordered by Mexico to the north and west, Belize to the northeast, Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast.
Its capital is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City.
Christmas Celebrations in Guatemala :
Guatemala is a very diverse country with more than 20 ethnic groups. Each of them has their own special traditions for celebrating Christmas. An early indicator of the coming Christmas season in Guatemala is the large holiday parade which Paiz, a local department-store chain, holds in the capital, Guatemala City, in mid-November.
For nine evenings prior to Christmas, the beat of drums and the explosion of fireworks are heard as posada processions move through the streets of Guatemala, with participants carrying farolitos (lanterns) to light the way. On each of these posadas, which are re-enactments of Joseph’s and Mary’s search for shelter in Bethlehem before Jesus’ birth, figures of the couple are carried to a designated house as special carols are sung. The figures are then placed on the Nativity scene of the house, where they will remain until the following night when the search for shelter resumes, and a great party takes place with food, drink, music, and dancing.
Most Guatemalans, like other Latin-American counties, plan and build, with the entire family, a Nativity Scene called a “Nacimiento” or “Belen”. Although it is originally a Spanish tradition, many indigenous (Guatemalan) elements are now used in the design and construction of the Nativity scenes. The nativity has clay houses, shepherds, sheep, roads, greenery and much more. The “Nacimiento” is normally put under the Christmas Tree.
On Christmas Eve families celebrate together and eat the main Christmas meal. It is made of several traditional dishes, but it always includes some Guatemalan tamales. In some regions they are made of corn and other of rice or potatoes. They can be sweet or not, and have several different ingredients inside like olives, prunes, peppers, chicken or pork. Tamales made with pork or chicken are the most popular Christmas dish in Guatemala. Guatemalans also enjoy different punch drinks with ingredients such as dried fruit, raisins, prunes, dates, cinnamon, milk, and/or rum.
In Antigua in Guatemala, on Christmas Eve, people take part in the traditional dance of “Los Gigantes,” or “The Giants,” wearing masks as seen in photo below.
Everyone waits until midnight to light hundreds of fireworks or firecrackers to celebrate the birth of Jesus. A family prayer is said around the tree and it is the custom to open the presents shortly after midnight. On Christmas Eve when the clock turns to midnight, a figure of the Christ Child is added to the nacimiento with great ceremony. Then abrazo de Navidad (Christmas hug) is exchanged between relatives, friends, and neighbors as a sign of unity and love. At noon on Christmas Day the sound of firecrackers can be heard throughout the cities and across the countryside.
The parade features marching bands and colorful floats depicting Christmas motifs and popular cartoon characters which delight the tens of thousands of spectators standing along its route.
Children will find gifts left by the Christ Child under the tree on Christmas morning (similar to the German Christkindl tradition).
Christmas Celebrations are grand in the capital and the largest city of nation the Guatemala City. Apart from that the celebrations of Christmas are also big in other large cities like – Mixco, Villa Nueva, Quetzaltenango, San Miguel Petapa, Escuintla, San Juan Sacatepéquez, Villa Canales, Chinautla, Chimaltenango, Amatitlán, Huehuetenango, etc.
Wishing all readers Merry Christmas 2019 & Happy New Year 2020 !!!