Well hello again…are you already going crazy with all the end of the year events? As I am not at home this year, I am more relax.
Last Sunday, Dec 7th, I met my Latins friends from School to a celebrate a Colombian holiday tradition. This made me wonder about how do Latin American countries celebrate Christmas. Lets start with our usual list:
Christmas in Argentina is very warm. I would never forget the Christmas were the thermal sensation was 50°C, way to warm!! In my country, on December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, most of the houses get decorated with Christmas trees and garlands hanging on the doors. We gather together with part of our family on Christmas Eve (either mother side or father side) to have dinner and wait until 12pm to welcome Papa Noel (Santa Claus). Papa Noel brings gift for everyone in the family, but Kids are the ones that usually receive more. Our dinner menu varies from home to home, some people have barbeque while others have different cold dishes like Vitel Toné, Russian salad and Waldorf salad. For example, for me it isn’t Christmas if I am not eating my aunt Silvia’s Vitel Toné. On December 25th we usually gather with the other side of the family. Some gather for lunch others for dinner. Last but not least, people usually spend Christmas’ eve and Christmas’ day with their family, while New Year’s eve is spend with friends and/or family.
Christmas celebrations in Colombia begin in early December with a ceremony in honor of the Virgin Mary. On the evening of December 7th, families light scores of candles and use them to outline streets, sidewalks, and parks around the cities. December 8th brings a national holiday commemorating the Immaculate Conception during which more prayers and candles are offered to the Virgin Mary. Christmas trees are decorated on December 16th with the start of the Novena, which in Colombia involves a nine-day prayer ritual with a rosary in anticipation of Christmas day. During this time of celebration of Christ’s birth, groups of families and friends, often including an entire village or neighborhood, will gather together each night to pray. Villancicos, better known as Christmas carols, are also sung around the nativity scene that plays a significant part of Colombia’s Christmas celebrations. Most Colombians attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve before returning home for dinner. The Christmas meal often includes a special chicken soup called Ajiaco, homemade breads, fritters, roast port and natilla, a corn-based dessert. Presents are brought by “El Niño Jesus” to the foot of children’s beds by the next morning, and after a relaxing day spent with family, the Christmas season is complete. (https://www.msichicago.org/scrapbook/scrapbook_exhibits/catw2004/traditions/countries/colombia.html)
The Christmas season begins on December 16th. Mexican households are decorated with flowers, evergreens and colored paper lanterns. A nativity set (Pesebre) is also set up in the house. The pesebre or El Nacimiento is the focal point of the household’s Christmas celebration. Pesebre can be as simple as three figures making up the holy family or as complex as the entire city of Bethlehem. Each night a procession (Las Posada) commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph and their search for lodging for the night. In some areas, groups of villagers (Santos Peregrinos) or Holy pilgrims assemble each night. Carrying candles and chanting songs, they go from house to house looking for lodging. At every house the pilgrims are refused. When they have finished the procession they return home to kneel at the Pesebre.
After prayers are said, a party (Fiesta) is held. Children from the procession are blindfolded in turn, spun around and given three chances to break a suspended decorated earthenware pot (Piñata), The piñata is filled with nuts, fruit and candy. When it is broken the children scramble to pick up the spilt goodies. (https://www.msichicago.org/scrapbook/scrapbook_exhibits/catw2004/traditions/countries/mexico.html)
To learn more about his tradition you can also visit: http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/mexico.shtml
Christmas in Venezuela puts a bit of Hispanic flair into the holiday by adding religious ceremonies and festivals to it. The religious celebrations for Christmas begin on December 16. This day is marked with mass services that churches hold in the morning, and these masses are celebrated every day until the 24th. These masses are called Misas de Aguinaldo.
One tradition that is pretty peculiar for celebrating Christmas in Venezuela is for people in Caracas to roller skate to attend mass services. Streets close to cars until 8 in the morning, and children are put to bed earlier than usual to give them enough strength for getting up early to attend mass the next day. At the end of the mass, people go out and eat tostados and drink coffee.
On December 24th, Venezuelans celebrate Nochebuena. The midnight mass that’s held on this night called Misa de Gallo. The whole family attends this service and they go home to sit and enjoy a huge fancy dinner.
Families gather not only to eat but also to thank Jesus for this special Christmas night, La Navidad. Beforehand families get together to prepare traditional Christmas dishes. (http://hispanic-culture-online.com/christmas-in-venezuela.html)
It is time to say goodbye! I want to thanks to my latins friends that provided me with all the information needed to write this blog. I specially want to thank María Mercedes Grajales, Brenda Hernández and José Rivas for the photos they provided to include in this post.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2015!!!
It’s been a real pleasure!