When you wake up on Christmas morning, what do you see? Have your stockings been filled by Dun Che Lao Ren? Don’t forget to leave straw on your shoes to feed the hungry camels, who have journeyed for 12 days to see the Christ child. Perhaps your house is visited not once, not twice, but 13 times by those mischievous Yule Lads (we want to know – did you get presents or rotten potatoes?). Or, did you look out your bedroom window and smile at the pile of ashes left from the Christmas Eve bonfire, knowing your family would be blessed in the year ahead?
The traditions we listed above are a sampling of Christmas traditions from around the world. In honor of the holiday season, and our affection for all things international, we thought we’d share some of the world’s Christmas traditions. Perhaps one or two will strike a chord and be introduced into your own holiday repertoire. Let’s start with visits to our home countries of Nicaragua and France.
Wherever in the world you find yourself this holiday season, we at Chang-Castillo and Associates wish you very happy holidays!
Christmas in Nicaragua
In Nicaragua the celebration of Christmas has deep religious roots and celebration is throughout the month of December.
La Gritería happens at 6 pm on December 7th. A common yell is heard in different cathedrals and churches: “Quién causa tanta alegría?” (Who causes so much happiness?). People respond “La Concepción de María” (Mary’s Conception). Following this, fireworks and firecrackers start exploding. In the biggest cities, it gets so loud that an uninformed tourist might think that a war has just started in the country!
Next, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is observed on December 8th. Called La Purísima (“The Purest of All”), it is a celebration in all parts of Nicaragua of the ‘purest conception of Virgin Mary.’ Chairs are placed in front of a richly decorated altar in a corner family homes with a statue of the Virgin Mary’s image to celebrate her as “la Purísima.” Guests pray to the virgin and sing traditional songs. The host serves fruits, sweets, drinks, sugar-cane, and other gifts. Outside, rockets and firecrackers are fired.
Starting mid-December, many towns, people celebrate Posadas. Priests and other believers accompany children in costumes representing Joseph, Mary and the shepherds. They go from door to door and sing popular folk songs asking for lodging, and from inside the house people respond singing traditional folk songs denying them entry, as it happened in Bethlehem according to the Bible. Finally, a door opens and the Holy Family may finally enter.
Join us for our next installment where we will visit France.