The last month of the year in Nicaragua is full of festivities and joy, family traditions and religious customs. Fireworks in all colors and shapes accompany the celebrations.
Although St. Nicholas is not known in Nicaragua, the Gritería, a Catholic feast in honor of the Virgin Mary, is celebrated on December 7. In front of the houses there are altars with flowers and statues of Mary. On this day, around 6:00 p.m., people then go from house to house shouting “Quien causa tanta alegría?” (Who causes all the joy?), whereupon the householders shout, “La concepción de María!” (the conception of Mary). They sing traditional songs and receive sweets or fruit from the villagers.
In December you can also see the “Gigantona and Enano Cabezón” – a group of usually four young people who dress up as a Spanish giant woman and an Indio dwarf and parade through the streets with drums and singing. They portray a chic Spanish woman from the colonial era who has to dance to the rhythm of the drums. The little Indian with his oversized head is in love with the woman and has a certain superiority through the power of the drum. Thus, the colonial struggle of the natives against the Spanish conquerors is depicted.
Christmas itself is celebrated throughout Nicaragua. The artificial Christmas trees are set up here early in December and decorated together with the family. On Christmas Eve, people get together with their families and celebrate outdoors at temperatures of 30° until well into the night. In the center, in some towns like Granada or León, inspiring Christmas parades with dance and music take place in the early evening. The first day of Christmas is ushered in with a large fireworks display, followed by the traditional Nicaraguan dish “relleno”, a casserole with meat and vegetables in tomato sauce.
At the turn of the year, it is traditional to burn “the old year” in the form of a doll made of straw and dressed in old clothes and hats. Like Christmas, the turn of the year is also a family celebration where people party, drink and sing. In larger cities, there are also New Year’s parties, as in Germany, and fireworks are not to be missed. Happy New Year!