Christmas Traditions in Guatemala

Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo!

In Guatemala, the folklore relating to the Christmas celebration is very rich and full of details. One will find many families building manger scenes, representing the town of Bethlehem. These manger scenes sometimes are so large they occupy a whole room of the home. Mountains, rivers, desserts, lakes, and valleys, along with figures of the holy family, wise men, shepherds, and animals are created out of natural materials like moss, colored wooddust, sand, pebbles and tropical leaves called “pacaya.”

It is the tradition of the Guatemalan people to go to church on Christmas Eve and then visit family and friends. At the exact stroke of midnight, when everyone has returned home, much like the New Year’s celebration in the U.S., the “Christmas Embrace” is shared and young people set off firecrackers.

Traditionally, everyone eats a dinner of delicious “tamal,” made of corn and rice, filled with turkey, prunes, raisins and a sauce made with local spices, which has been cooked for at least eight hours. Tamal is packed in banana leaves and tied with a dried weed. It is served with white bread and a slice of lemon, accompanied with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee.

The Christmas celebration in Guatemala continues well into the early morning hours of Christmas day. At midday on the 25th, people will again set off firecrackers and attend church. Children are very much an important part of this special celebration.


7 Responses to “Christmas Traditions in Guatemala”

  1. Terri

    Recipe for traditional Guatemalan Christmas Tamales

  2. monica

    Nice article about Traditional Xmas in Guatemala. One thing the tamal is made by corn (Masa) with chicken or pork, turkey with lots of species but not patotoes. Nicaragua is the one who do with patotoes.

  3. Andrea

    Please put more informencion of the traditions of Guatemla!

    Att Andrea

  4. FaNy

    the article is good but i need more information about guatemala for example the traditional food, customs, famous places in this country.
    thanks. bye.


  5. Laura

    Please add more traditions that would be of interest to a Kindergarten Class that is studying what Christmas is like for the children in Guatemala.

  6. Olivia

    you need to talk about what they wore and all the other stuff like that but other wise you info is awsome so thanks and please add more stuff to it soon.

  7. Joy

    This helps so much with research reports. I think you could get alott of visiters on this website if you made it more public. I know that I would come here for all my reports.