Christmas in Ciudad Viaja
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” – Matthew 6: 25-27
Feliz Ano Nuevo!!
First off, I need to learn how to make accent marks on my computer. But after that breaking news, let me share the amazing blessing the last three weeks. As you can imagine, my first Christmas away from my family was difficult. Fortunately, God knows how to provide. I was adopted into a very gracious and kind family for the week, making the transition easier and a great opportunity for me to experience a Guatemalan Christmas! Let me explain to the best of my knowledge.
There may be no snow here, but they know how to make it feel like Christmas with many musical lights, Nativity scenes, Christmas Posadas, special foods, and pine leaves. To start off with, I noticed the Christmas lights, or at least hear them, and saw Christmas trees. After I noticed many large Nativity scenes, taking up almost half the room in houses. For the most part, these are all things I knew from America, but then I started noticing more and more houses having pine leaves line the floor. I found out this tradition is carried from when there were dirt floors in houses, the pine leaves are placed for celebrations. It changes the entire environment of the room: the color, the smell, and gives the room carpet. Then at night during dinner I began to hear whistles, shakers, car horns, and of course, firecrackers. My Guatemama told me to go out the door and I would see a Christmas Posada, which later I participated in. These Posadas went through town carrying a Nativity scene and would end up at someone’s house, asking if there was room. The house would let them in and feed them some food as well as serve Punche Navidad, therefore changing the history of Joseph and Mary being turned away.
Next, the big day is really Christmas Eve. After church, you wait until midnight and set off LOTS of fireworks. And no, I am not exaggerating, I mean A LOT. Everyone does, including all the neighbors, and this is not just at midnight. They continue to be set off at 6 am, noon, and 6 pm. After you eat special tamales, in the Antigua area it was Red tamales or Black, which are sweet. Then you open presents if there are any, but mostly it is just time to spend with family. In the household I stayed in, we actually ate the tamales and dinner earlier, leaving us time to play Apples to Apples!
After the week was up, I left my “family” and got to practice my traveling Spanish! I spent the next two weeks traveling around parts of Guatemala with my boyfriend, Caleb. We met many new friends, whether in hostels, just at lunch, or in shuttles. And sometimes meeting those new friends meant I had to translate. It was such a great experience! I feel so much more confident in my Spanish being able to communicate with so many different people, with different accents, from different Spanish speaking countries! We spent New Years in Lanquin/Semuc Champey (don’t worry, there were fireworks!), and we spent time exploring Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and Quetzaltenango (Xela).
Now, since this post is long already, stay tuned for my January newsletter for more stories! Check out my facebook for pictures! If you have any questions, comments, or jokes, please share!
The Lord really does provide for His children’s needs.
Vaya con Dios!!