Christmas in Antigua Guatemala has its own salsa-chile twist on the jolly old time of the year.  There’s not as much premium on shopping as there is on celebrating with friends, family  and community. Here are five Christmas season fiestas, done Antigua Guatemala-style, which the Yolkobsens will be enjoying this season.

Christmas Fiesta #1 – Quema del Diablo – Burning of the Devil – December 7

This is the kick-off to the Christmas season and what a barn burner it is.  This fiesta is held on the eve of The Immaculate Conception (December 8).

Christmas Festival #2 – Our Lady of Guadeloupe – Virgen de Guadalupe – December 12

Our Lady of Guadeloupe Day #2
is a bigger deal in Mexico where the miracles associated with this saint were first reported and celebrated back in 1531. However, Antigua Guatemala puts on quite a show. The  night before, there are surreal processions where a statue of Our Lady of Guadeloupe is carried around the town in a two-hour loop.

Christmas Festival #3 – The Inns – Las Posadas – December 15 to 23

For nine nights in row neighborhoods organize a search for the inns, reenacting how Mary and Joseph looked in vain for a room in Bethlehem.  Each night a procession knocks at a participant’s door.  All are invited in and offered punch, cakes, chocolates, tamales, chuchitos (“little dogs” a kind of tamale) or whatever the hosts will offer.

Christmas Festival #4 – Christmas Eve – Noche Buena – December 24

Late afternoon of Christmas eve sees the Dance of the Giants.  Los Gigantes, some dressed like the three kings, others just rocking gaudy finery, dance around the main streets on stilts.

Christmas Festival #5 – All Fool’s Day – Dia de los Inocentes – December 28

Okay, this isn’t really a festival.  Instead, it’s a day of fun and mayhem Guate style.  It can sort of be likened to April Fool’s Day, but with a harder edge.

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