Christmas is an important event all over the world and Guatemala is no exception!
The main Christmas celebrations in Guatemala take place on the 24th November, Christmas Eve. And the central point of this celebration is the family. Christmas in Guatemala is, first of all, an opportunity to meet up with the whole family and share special moments together.
Christmas is also an opportunity to have the whole family around the table to share an abundance of festive foods! In Guatemala, the women of the family, grandmothers, mothers, daughters and daughters in law cook together all day to prepare the evening meal.
And the star of this meal is the traditional “paches”! The paches are a traditional food from Guatemala originating from Quetzaltenango. You can find them in any market of the city at any time of the year. But the paches at Christmas are special; in Xela, they are made from potatoes or rice dough! And those paches are only eaten at special occasions, which Christmas definitely is! For dessert, the family usually enjoy a “panela” which is made of cane sugar.
Another tradition in Guatemala at Christmas is the use of many Christmas decorations! You can see when you walk through the streets of Xela that the Guatemalan people love the colorful and joyful decorations. And it also applies to the houses! The traditional decorations include the Christmas tree, of course, but also homemade pieces such as decorations made of “manzanilas” which are small apples. The people fix together these manzanilas in different ways and use them to decorate the room. The families also use palm leaves to decorate their homes. The traditional flowers of Christmas: the “Flores de Pascua” can also be seen throughout the festive season.
One of the most important decorations in Guatemala is the “Nacimiento” (the Nativity Scene). The pieces are usually made by members of the family themselves. The families try to make them as beautiful as possible for when they finally present them to their beloved ones. The Nacimiento is so important here that they even have competitions of Nacimientos where the most beautiful one wins!
And of course, Christmas is also about sharing and love: during Christmas Eve the children receive gifts from the whole family and finally, at midnight, the fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons hug and kiss and admire the fireworks all over the city!