January 2019 Newsletter

Christmas and New Year in Nicaragua

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The majority of the population in Nicaragua is Christian, so the holiday season is focused on Christian traditions. The Christmas holiday season usually starts on December 7 with the beginning of Purisima, which celebrates the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. On this day people go to friends’ houses and sing songs about the Virgin Mary and Christmas. In response, the families give out oranges, sugar canes, candy, plastic bowls, pieces of cooked squash with brown sugar on top, or other plastic utensils. Some places that are more well-to-do will even give out glass dishes. You can read Rick Steves’ description of his Purisma experience in Leon, Nicaragua at https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-readlisten/nicaragua-pure-joy-in-a-humble-land.

On December 11-12, the communities celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe. There is a shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe, and an evening mass on the 11th with songs and celebration. On the 12th there is mass again at 1pm. That evening there is a procession through the streets with a statue of the Virgin, and the people dress in festive traditional clothes and dance along.

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During the holiday season, town central parks are decorated with lights and the nativity scene. Families celebrate together on Christmas and New Years. New Years Eve ends with lots of firecrackers and fireworks. There is a tradition where some families make a stuffed person out of old clothes, put a hat and shoes on it, and fill it with firecrackers. It sits by their house until midnight and then is lit in the streets-- the firecrackers go wild! The fireworks and burning of the stuffed person signify the old year is gone.