When and How Is Christmas Celebrated in Guatemala?

christmas-celebrated-guatemala Credit: AFP/AFP/Getty Images

In Guatemala, Christmas is called Las Posadas and is celebrated during the nine days that preceed the traditional date of the holiday, from December 16th through December 24th. The celebration typically ends at around 8 or 10 p.m. on the evening of the last day. The holiday is celebrated with prayer, Christmas carols and musical re-enactments of Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to stay.

Las Posadas is a holiday celebration that is derived from the nativity story, while the nine days of celebration represent the nine months of gestation that baby Jesus went through before he was born. It is seen as a very important religious celebration because of its Roman Catholic roots. Numerous parades that re-enact Mary and Joseph's search for a posada, or lodging, during the holiday take place during the celebration. The plural form of the word is used because the celebration lasts for more than one day.

Las Posadas is also celebrated using more traditional Christmas practices, such as Christmas lights, gift giving, trees, candles, decorations, parties and firework displays. Those that celebrate the holiday in a more traditional manner typically stay up on the night of Christmas Eve to open gifts. The way the holiday is celebrated is a result of Spanish, Portuguese or French influences, combined with elements of culture from the United States.