Christmas in Guatemala
Christmas in Guatemala

Christmas in Guatemala

Preparations for Christmas in Guatemala begin in early December. There's nothing more satisfying than sweeping out the house and burning dust and rubbish in the street for the day of "quema del diablo" or "burning the devil." 

In shops, artisans are busy making Christmas piñatas shaped liked Santa Claus, baby Jesus, creche figures, or whatever comes into their imagination. Like any self-respecting piñata, it's filled with fruit, candies and little toys that rain down once the piñata is broken open, unleashing a frenzy among the crowd to gather up the loot. 

On Christmas Eve, people gather for a traditional meal. The table is decorated with red apples and little folk objects. A legacy of Mayan culture, tamales are a specialty throughout Latin America. Made with corn flour, they can be sweet or savory, filled with meat, tomato or cheese, and steamed over a wood fire. However, only Guatemala makes black tamales filled with chicken and mole, a traditional chocolate-based sauce that creates a surprising combination!

There are also patches - corn or potato fritters filled with meat and spices - sometimes a turkey (pavo) or chicken cooked in wine, and a classic dessert: buñuelos and rellenitos.

The Christmas Eve feast would not be complete without hot punch, often non-alcoholic but containing lots of fruits. 

Holiday recipes

Photos: Go to to learn more about the traditional foods of Guatemala.

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