Dec 15, 2008

'Tis the Season of Posadas, Chicuyas, Misas de Gallo, Palo Voladares, Nacimientos y mas...

For nine days before Christmas, posada processions pass through the streets of Guatemala.

They beat drums and light fireworks... they carry statues of Mary and Joseph (and other Saints) to friends houses where they sing carols and ask for lodging for the Holy Family in the families Manger by singing traditional songs about the pilgrims

They sing, dance, and eat Tamales. On Christmas Eve, the Christ Child is added to the Manger and everyone involved in the posada in the last nine days is invited to this last night.

A Christmas tree is added due to the large German population in Guatemala and presents are left for the children by the Christ Child on Christmas morning.

There is a midnight mass on Christmas Eve and a full supper. The mass on Christmas Eve has been traditionally known as Misa de Gallo, the Mass of the Rooster, as the rooster is long known as one of the first witnesses of Jesus and the first to announce his birth.

A Child Chosen, read it all, click here:

¨Chicuyas is the name by which Guatemalans name the part of the pine tree, which I don’t its English name (can you help me with the English name for part of the pine tree...gracias, Pine Cone). The pine tree provides many elements of the Christmas decorations for Guatemalans, like the pine needle that is spread on the floor as carpet at fiestas and special events. The pine needles provide an important aroma to the Christmas season in Guatemala.¨

Antigua Daily Photo, view/read it all, click here:

The Rooster is the first known to greet the birth of Baby Jesus by crowing and is often represented not only with the Gallo Mass but elaborate Fireworks displays at midnight.

The Misa de Gallo actually is translated as the Mass of the Rooster. Guatemala has many fascinating Christmas traditions, and they all culminate in the Misa de Gallo.

Again and again in Guatemala during the Christmas season, they include statues in daily processions. Statues of very popular saints, Santa Maria, San Jose, San Miguel the Archangel and the Virgin of Guadalupe being favorites, are included in the processions, but the main emphasis is on God. After the procession, the statues are returned to church.

Another big part of the Guatemalan Christmas celebration is its emphasis on the Nativity or manger scene, known as Nacimientos. On Christmas Eve, baby Jesus is added to the manger display.

No lesson, no matter how brief, would be complete without understanding the history of the Guatemalan people. Modern-day Guatemalans are descendants of the Mayans. About 400 years ago the Mayans were converted to Christianity after they were conquered by the Spanish. Through the centuries, they’ve come to celebrate Christian holidays to a larger extent than other Christian nations. On St. Thomas Day, for example, which occurs on December 21, they celebrate Palo Voladare.

This is also called the flying pole dance and was actually a ritual that preceded their conversion to Christianity, but was adapted to St. Thomas Day. St. Thomas was one of Jesus’ twelve Apostles. Santo Tomás Church, Chichicastenango,
Quiché, is one of the sites for the pole dancing ritual on December 21, 2008.

As you can see, the Christmas season in Guatemala is filled with celebrations not only on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but throughout the entire month of December.

Christmas lore in Guatemala, Central America, read it all, click here:

Thanks to Antigua (Guatemala) Daily Photo
Thanks to Christmas Lore in Guatemala
Thanks to A Child Is Chosen
Thanks to Flickr Photosharing
Thanks to Guatemalas Department of Tourism


Kirkepiscatoid said...

WOW! Wonderful pics! Makes the holiday in Kirksville, MO!

Leonardo Ricardo said...

HOW COULD THAT BE? You´re as colorful as they come (and I´m certain they know it)!

Happy everything!

Cany said...

Gorgeous post in ALL ways. The photos are stunning, and so are the stories!

Bonnie said...

Hi Leonardo--Seconding Kirkepiscatoid's and Cany's comments. Beautiful colors and I love the beaded, colorful, winsome toys.

Them doggies in the party hats are pretty cool too. The red, white and blue is a nice touch. Were you having a birthday party? I wished you HB on your last post but in case you missed it there, let me wish you happy birthday again. Life is a whole lot more interesting with you around.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Thanks Bonnie, Cany and Kirkepiscatoid...I´m in a really wonderful mood...I guess it´s showing a tad...first, of course, is that I´m 30 years sober and all I did was ask God to save me (and drink like a upstream swimming fish for 17 years) and secondly, I keep getting blessed, huge, good reviews on my art (nice sales too) and someone offered me a great price on a lot up at Lake Atitlan...gorgeous, tiny, but perfect for us...we´ll check it out more thoroughly in January...meanwhile lots to do with friends and family (Juan Carlos family is coming for lunch/piñatas and they are over 20 in number) great parties (two already) a luncheon tomorrow...fabulous stuff going on...I hope all is well with all of you (I love the doggers in hats and I found it a flickr although they do like my own canine family...and smile as big).

Best to all,

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Lovely pictures – and great to see all the wonders of the Incarnation; how differently different cultures praise God!

In Sweden there usually isn't much snow until after Christmas (in the inhabited half, that is) and the big thing didn't use to be Midnight Mass (which is taking over nowadays, but was virtually unknown in the 1960ies, when it began to be televised from St Peter in Rome), but Jul-otta, “Jule madrugada”, a rest of the Hours, at 5 AM, gradually later, nowadays probably 7 or 8 in most places where it’s still on…

But the way people think of this is always with sleighs going to (or from) church, flambeaux shining…

Still into the early 20th century the high point of the Julotta was the Gospel reading, Luke 2 being sung by a local layman (!), but this is all forgotten now.

History reports that one of the Mediaeval Kings, Sverker I was murdered by his “stallare”, his marshal (probably on instigation by a rival Magnus Henriksson, a Danish Prince) going to church on Christmas morning in the year 1156.

Lynn said...

Twent members of the family for lunch, Oh, my. Should I ship you some boxes of Nilla wafers so you can make banana pudding?

I have to ask about the rose photo. Has it been enhanced? The pale lavender Sterling Silvers grow well here in the D.C. area, but I've never seen anything as vibrant as shown in that picture. I do love all the photos. And the 30 years :-)

FranIAm said...

Oh my! First of all, I know that when I arrive here at this "blog de mi alma" that I love so much, I will be greeted by some great header... today was no different. Gorgeous.

Then this post- ay, que rico! I was wanting to write about the posadas but time and my own white bread soul have deterred me.

This is amazing Leonardo! I love this post in all of its colorful and beautiful glory.

How I would love to visit one day - and oh, for a tamale made fresh... ahhhh.

Now I must run off to work in the snow.

La paz, la luz y mas!!! Besos y abrazos Leonardo and to all!

Doorman-Priest said...

I so enjoyed this post. I agree about the pictures: truly fab! Thanks.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Hi Friends,

Glad you like the pictures...we´re going to take a few this coming Sunday at our Piñata party (for lots of kids not only JC´s family which is huge) we went to Bigtown with friends from the States...we love them and it made shopping in the most nutshuge super fun...all is well, we are all well and thanks for the Banana Pudding offer, dear Lynn, please bring it down...we need the extralarge one...about 40 folks on Sunday!

Lynn said...

Pudding? I offered to ship you cookies! Oh, you are such a kidder. Tell ya what, you send up your private jet, I'll be there with enough banana pudding for 40+. I'd fly down in my own jet, but my pilot is away, spreading propaganda brochures over Nigeria and Uganda. ("The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" pamphlets).

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Lynn, we ought send both jets over Nigeria and Uganda and drop Welcome pamphlets with Banana Pudding Samples...that sort of thing seems to work wonders with Akinola and Orombi (plus some Gift Certificates).

Fred Schwartz said...


You create such lovely pictures but none more so than your own personal story. In my heart of hearts I believe that that God was anxious to be a part of your story and all you had to do was ask -- and you did!

The community I serve has a great Filipino group and they are in he midst of a Misa de Gallo ala the Philippines. Each morning when I got to work I would walk over to the hall for music and food and fun. The traditional mass is at 4:00 am but our family held it a t 5:15 am and what a crowd it would draw. It is a great and wonderment tradition.

Leonardo, blessings on your 30 years. I am richer in all ways for knowing you!

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