Learn about Christmas traditions in Guatemala

Burning of the Devil —

On December 7th, Guatemalans spend the day busily cleaning, clearing out trash and burning it in front of their houses. The annual tradition is said to purge the homes and souls from evil in preparation for Mary, Joseph and the promised Christ child.   All of the cleaning is completed by night time where a physical representation of the devil is burned in the streets with fireworks going off, hopefully supervised by the local bomberos (firefighters).

Posadas —

Posadas are reenactments of the journey to Bethlehem. Guatemalans accompany Mary and Joseph, singing carols and playing drums and other typical musical instruments. They knock on doors seeking shelter but are turned away until they reach a designated house, where everyone is invited inside. As the holy couple is bedded down in solemn ceremony, the remaining scramble for refreshments. The journey continues to another house the next night.

Midnight Mass and Christmas Day —

On Christmas Eve, Catholics gather for mass, including prayers and fellowship with neighbors.  The service culminates with fireworks (Guatemalans *love* their fireworks!) food and a spiced hot fruit punch or hot chocolate.  The traditional Christmas Eve dinner is tamales.   We’re compiling a list of where to buy traditional Guatemalan tamales!