After Carnaval, Christmas is the second most celebrated holiday in Bolivia. This holiday has some interesting characteristics that aren’t found in other places.
Read on to discover why you should spend your next Christmas in this beautiful country.
Although homeowners in Bolivia will not decorate their homes excessively, they will set up a ‘pesebre’ (stable), also known as ‘nacimientos’ (nativity scenes). Churches will similarly build larger ones and place them at the entrances.
It should also not surprise you to see Christmas trees around major cities and towns.
Although presents aren’t as popular as in other parts of the world like in the USA, some residents of Bolivia exchange gifts during this holiday. This is mostly done on Epiphany where children are gifted with new clothes.
Misa De Gallo
As a predominantly Catholic country, it’s not surprising to find most Bolivian people attending the midnight mass service on Christmas Eve.
While this is standard in most countries, the Bolivian Christmas has a twist; people carry roosters to church hence the name Misa De Gallo (Mass of the Rooster).
This interesting practice is attributable to the fact that Bolivians believe that a rooster was the first animal to announce the birth of Jesus.
Although the significance of this practice has reduced over the years, Christians with a more traditional background continue with it relentlessly.
Most people commemorate the end of the mass with firecrackers and return home to enjoy a traditional Bolivian dinner known as Picana.
The meal is basically stew comprised of chicken, pork, beef or lamb, which is served with potatoes and corn on the comb.
Other meals served on Christmas include salads, roast turkey and ‘Lechón’ (roast pork). It’s traditional to drink hot chocolate for breakfast, which is accompanied by ‘buñuelos’ pastries.
The Christmas holiday is such a big deal in Bolivia that workers receive triple the normal salary in December.
The holiday is somewhat unique from most parts of the world and celebrations go on for two weeks.
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Main Points About Christmas in Bolivia
- Christmas in Bolivia starts from Christmas eve until the 6th of January.
- Christmas is harvest time in Bolivia. The mother earth is celebrated for her generosity.
- Because many Bolivians are Roman Catholics, they attend the midnight mass (Misa de Gallo meaning Mass of the Rooster) on Christmas eve.
- The main Christmas meal is a traditional meal is ‘Picana’; a soup made of meat and served with potatoes, corn, and other vegetables. This is eaten after the midnight mass.
- As a law made by the government ‘El Aguinaldo’, Bolivia workers get double or triple their salaries in December.
As Christmas time equals summertime in Bolivia, it’s the season of sunny days, pools, barbecues and fresh fruit and Christmas is mostly a religious holiday spent with family, and not very commercial.
Houses and streets might be slightly decorated with for example artificial trees, but not much.
Christmas processions carrying Baby Jesus into town take place in some villages and pretty much everyone goes to Midnight Mass at church.
Word Cloud for Christmas in Bolivia
The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas in Bolivia. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.
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Chara Yadav holds MBA in Finance. Her goal is to simplify finance-related topics. She has worked in finance for about 25 years. She has held multiple finance and banking classes for business schools and communities. Read more at her bio page.