Christmas in Totonicapán, Guatemala
We asked the Catrinka Girls Project leaders to tell us how they celebrate Christmas in their hometown of Totonicapán, Guatemala. This is their story.
Before Christmas Eve, all of the salespeople prepare their products to sell on the 23rd and 24th. Other families decorate their homes with colored lights, Christmas trees and creches. In the village there is a festival of school bands playing Christmas music passing through the main streets. There is a tree-lighting ceremony presided over by the mayor.
Also in early December there are events, organized by women, where characters for the children go out to dance accompanied by marimba groups through the streets.
The posadas, or 9 days of religious observance, begins on the 16th. Every night for 9 nights there is a walk in which the sacred family (Jose, Maria y Jesus) are carried on shoulders and surrounded by lanterns to different homes. On the last night, the 24th, Christmas baskets are delivered with essential items for the neediest families.
On the 23rd families go out to buy ingredients for tomales and drinks for the Christmas celebrations. Some families also buy fireworks. On the 24th everyone gets together with their family and they visit the church; at 6 pm all of the families meet in their house to prepare paches (potato tamales), chuchitos (another tamale served at Christmas) and drinks like fruit punch and hot chocolate. These will be eaten at midnight to receive Christmas and welcome baby Jesus. Typically the women will be cooking with the help of the girls, the men will be chatting, and the boys will be playing.
At the arrival of midnight, all of the families celebrate the birth of Jesus with a prayer and placing the baby in the creche. Afterwards they set off fireworks, and some families exchange gifts. On the 25th the youth of the village organize another party, which will go from 2 pm until 9 pm. That is how we celebrate Christmas in Totonicapán.