Christmas in Guatemala - Posadas

by Benjamin Barnett
(Guatemala City, Guatemala)

Convites, where people dress up in Christmas outfits for a contest

Convites, where people dress up in Christmas outfits for a contest

Christmas in Guatemala is really a fantastic time. We are American expats living in Guatemala for a few years now, and enjoy the more religious aspect of Guatemala Christmas, as much for the lack of commercialism as for the wonderful Guatemala Christmas customs.

When we lived in the USA, we celebrated the Posada with Mexican families, but now that we live in Guatemala, we really get to experience the holiday in its natural environment.

Posadas are the traditional processions that start 9 days before Christmas. Every evening, statues of Joseph and Mary (José y María) are carried through the streets on platforms, looking for a place to stay. The group sings a traditional song, requesting entrance at various homes, much like Mary and Joseph did when expecting Jesus.

After being refused at several doors, they find a place to stay for the night (a home that was previously selected) and everyone in the procession comes in for traditional foods, chuchitos and hot chocolate. This is repeated each night, with the couple staying at a different home every night until Christmas.

The nine days of the posadas represent the nine months of María?s pregnancy. In small towns, there will only be one posada per night, while in the city, there are several, one for each area of the city.

The processions start off small and gather more and more people as they walk, until a
large crowd is walking through the streets by the evening. People carry lanterns or candles protected by cellophane and sing hymns as they walk. When the procession arrives at each house, they ask for ?posada? or lodging; you can see as they progress to different houses, they are at first denied and then welcomed in, blessing the last house as they enter.

When they enter, they will be offered food and drink, the type depending on the economic status of the house. A more modest home might offer champurradas, a type of cookie, with ponche, a type of Christmas drink with fruits (see picture above), and a more affluent home may offer tamales and ponche.

Our new ebook titled "Christmas in Guatemala 101: Fun Activities, Traditions, and Recipes for an Authentic Guatemalan Christmas" offers 40 pages of specific family-friendly information about the Christmas season in Guatemala. In addition, there are recipes and fun crafts for kids. Also included (and this perhaps the best part!) are two bonuses: a bilingual cookbook of over 40 recipes for tamales from all regions of Guatemala, and over 50 Guatemalan Christmas coloring pages - fun for classes and kids in general. In addition, a percentage of profits go to benefit Guatemalan charities. Go to the following link for more info and to purchase:

Thanks for the opportunity to share a bit about a culture and tradition we love from Guatemala.

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