Christmas in Nicaragua may lack snow and evergreen trees, but the people of Nicaragua still celebrate in great measure with their families. Leading up to Christmas Catholics in Nicaragua celebrate La Purisma and La Griteria in honor of Mary. They express gratefulness for her purity and humble role with parades, tributes, and celebrations in the streets of large cities.
Next comes Las Posadas. Churches in the U.S. often have a Nativity play, but what if it lasted 9 days? During Las Posadas, community members representative of Mary and Joseph travel from home to home, being refused lodging until the ninth day, when they are welcomed to an inn and there is a great celebration. During this time, whole communities come together to put on or watch the play, which recognizes the hardship of Mary’s pregnancy and the miracle of birth.
Christmas Eve is especially significant in Nicaragua. It is celebrated with a family dinner, the giving of small gifts like fruits or candies, and fireworks at midnight to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Christmas is a day of rest after all the celebration and festivities with family and neighbors the night before.
New Year’s in Nicaragua can be understood as a hybrid of New Year’s and Thanksgiving here in the United States. Families gather for dinner to give thanks for blessings in the past year and toast to the year ahead.
Of course, there is food, family, and fireworks, but another unique tradition is a part of Nicaragua’s New Year; when translating student letters, I read multiple students talking about “El Hombre Viejo.” I was at first concerned and confused about this “old man,” because the students enthusiastically described him being at the center of a bonfire! However, after some research, I found that “El Hombre Viejo” is not an old man, but a straw doll (like a scarecrow) dressed in old clothes who represents the past year. Communities have a bonfire with the straw doll to express the idea of “out with the old, and in with the new!”
Many of these grand celebrations are enjoyed in the cities, but in Rainbow’s remote villages, holidays are less decorative. Some families still give small gifts, like fruits, to children for Christmas, and El Hombre Viejo is a tradition in some communities. Even without the packaging and parades, villages are filled with family love and joy around the holidays.
Each of the 112 communities served by the Rainbow Network enjoys a Christmas party each year. Toys that have been donated by you are handed out to the children, a piñata is brought out for them to take turns trying to be the one to let the candy out. Fun and fellowship with the families and staff of Rainbow Network are abounding.
We need your help! We currently have 7,047 children aged 12 and under that we attempt to supply with a toy each year. As the end of year sales are happening, think about maybe buying an extra toy or two to give to our children in rural Nicaragua. You can drop them off at our office in Springfield, or if you have a lot, call us at 417.889.8088 and schedule a pick up with one of our volunteers.
The toys need to be in good condition. Games must have instructions in Spanish. The best toys are balls. The children enjoy soccer and baseball. Dolls, jump ropes, baseball items are some good choices for the children. We do not take the small “Happy Meal” type toys, stuffed animals, puzzles, or any toys that require batteries. Please do not wrap the toys.
We collect toys throughout the entire year, and ship them down in September so they will arrive before Christmas. Our staff in Nicaragua then gets the toys ready to pass out at the parties we hold in each of the 112 communities throughtout December.
Rainbow Network Communities Celebrate Christmas With The Children