Christmas in Guatemala – Unique Traditions to Know About

Christmas in Guatemala is a spectacular time of year full of warmth and love, the same as in all countries that celebrate Xmas.

Christmas trees and nativity scenes (with colorful sawdust floors) are common sightings.

However, there are several traditions from this country that set it apart from how Christmas is celebrated elsewhere. 

The Holiday Events Before Xmas

It is important to know that there are certain holiday celebrations that occur within December that lead up to Christmas Day.

For example, the season is kicked off on Dec 7 when piñatas in the likeness of The Devil are burned in preparation for the good hopes they have for the upcoming year.

This is referred to as El Quema del Diablo.

This runs into Procesíon de la Virgen de Concepcíon, where an enormous statue of Mary is carried by several men throughout the town streets.

When Mary’s parade reaches the church, mass is held there. Later, on December 12th, the children of Guatemala adorn traditional clothing on Día de Guadalupe.

They often light sparklers and cheerfully honor Mary again on this day. (Día de Guadalupe starts on the eve before in many families.) 

From the 16th through 24th, posadas are held. A large display of Mary and Joseph is carried to three pre-selected homes and are not granted entry until the third house is reached.

Here they are fed and the statue is left until the following night. On the final night, a “baby Jesus” is added to the display. Now the events of Christmas in Guatemala are reaching ahead.  

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What is Special on Christmas Eve in Guatemala?

On Christmas Eve, a huge meal is shared with the family. This would be considered their “Christmas Dinner” although it is done on December 24th, which is technically Christmas Eve.

Family favorites are served, including a variety of tamales (the ingredients of which vary by region). Hot fruit punch is enjoyed (along with — by some of the adults).

At midnight on this night, many people go to mass and fireworks are shot everywhere as a big “Hoorah” for the birth of Jesus.

Shortly thereafter, the air continues to be refilled with excitement as Christmas gifts are opened and admired.

On Christmas Day, everyone relaxes and reflects in gratitude for the blessings they have received and look forward to.

Christmas in Guatemala is unlike any other and one can only hope to be a part of such rich traditions.

Learn More With the Help of Video

Main Points About Christmas in Guatemala

  1. The Christmas season is often signed off with large holiday parades of colourful floats, marching bands, and other Christmas motif.
  2. Nine evenings before Christmas, with drum beats and fireworks, the posada processions participants move through the streets with small lanterns.
  3. Among other decorations, the nativity scene is one of the most popular Christmas decorations in homes and public places. At 12 midnight of Christmas eve, the baby Jesus figurine is added.
  4. The procession is not the only event on Christmas Eve. Young boys perform special dances in public places.
  5. Christmas in Guatemala is not complete without a rich Christmas dinner with friends and loved ones.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Christmas in Guatemala


Families will usually gather on Christmas Eve and have the main meal together. There can be many different traditional dishes but it always includes Guatemalan tamales.

As in many other countries, families plan and build a nativity scene, and on Christmas Eve everyone waits until midnight and then lights hundreds of fireworks and firecrackers.

After, you say a prayer by the Christmas tree and open the presents.

Word Cloud for Christmas in Guatemala

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas in Guatemala. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.