Unlike many countries, Guatemala celebrates Christmas Eve much more than Christmas Day. Given the nation’s strong Catholic and Christian identity, these holidays are some of the most important in the entire year.
How Guatemalans Celebrate Christmas Eve
Religious processions depicting Joseph and Mary from the Bible start sometimes weeks before Christmas and many of them also occur on Christmas Eve. The real celebration, however, is at night. As soon as the sun goes down, sometimes even before, fireworks can be seen filling up the sky.
Guatemalan Traditions for Christmas Eve
In many countries, the children open up their presents the morning of Christmas Day. This is not the case in Guatemala. Instead, families have a large dinner on the night of the 24th. They spend the night chatting and playing games. Once the clock hits midnight, the children rush to open their presents. After all the gifts have been opened, the kids play with their toys and another, smaller dinner might sometimes occur. The celebration ends around 3 to 4am when everyone goes to bed.
Guatemalan Food on Christmas Eve
As stated earlier, Guatemalans hold a large dinner on the night of Christmas Eve. This dinner tends to consist of tamales. Unlike mexican tamales, guatemalan tamales are steamed inside green plantain leaves. The cornmeal is filled with meat, with chicken being the most common. A little bit of sauce is put in the center to add flavor. To compliment the tamales, Guatemalans usually drink ponche, a fruity drink that is served hot.