The Chritmas spirit starts to be felt a lot before Christmas, becasue everyone is looking for ornaments for their houses, their gardens, their frint door and their tree.
Trees are put in living rooms at least 3 or 4 weeks before Christmas, because you need time to make the “nacimiento”, this is like a scene done with Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and Baby Jesus small figures. Some people just put the three figures some other like to make it more real with animals, and sheperds and the three Kings,
Here in El Salvador, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. Everything starts very, very early, as most companies let their employees leave at noon, or at least 1 or 2 hours before 5 PM, to finish their “Christmas Duties”.
In the streets you can feel the spirit, everyone is in such a rush either finding the last ingredients for their secial recipes, buying presents, clothes and fireworks, picking up family members and friends, or just hanging around. At about 4 or 5 PM everyone starts dressing up for the ocassion, and as a tradition we like to wear something new on Christmas.
At about 7 PM, friends and family members start showing up at other friends’ of family members’ houses. By this time your ears are already used to the many BOOMs and BANGs from the noisy, yet beautiful fireworks, that children start lighting up in the evening. These fireworks go from “silbadores” which are a kind of firecrackers that make a loud noise, like the one of a whistle; to “morteros” which are really huge firecrakers, that make a noise loud enough to make windows vibrate; to “polvora china” which is like the one American’s light up the 4th of July.
Salvadoreans are “fiesteros”, which means they like parties. So many familes have like a party for Christmas, they dance, drink, and enjoy one of the nicest times of the year.
At 11 PM some families start having dinner, some wait until midnight. Most families have turkey with different sauces for dinner. Others eat “tamales”.
Also the times of opening presents vary from family to family. Midnight is really nice, all the families count the seconds to 12, and then they hug each other wishing a Merry Christmas. Also some familes have the tradition of eating 12 grapes each, and making a wish for evey grape eaten.
Other tradition, is going to the “Misa de Gallo” which takes place at 12 o’clock.
After having dinner, opening presents, and hugging each other, most teenagers like going to clubs to dance and continue partying.
Adults mostly stay in their houses until 4 or 5 (or until the teenagers come back from partying) and then leave to have a goodnight sleep.
And this is Christmas in El Salvador. I hope you can come and spend at least one Christmas here, you’ll enjoy it.