Discovering Christmas Traditions of Central American Countries

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Discovering Christmas Traditions of Central American Countries

Christmas is a magical time of the year when people from all walks of life come together to celebrate and rejoice. Every country has its unique way of celebrating this festival, and Central American countries are no exception to this. Central America is known for its vibrant culture, and Christmas is a good time to discover it. This blog post highlights the Christmas traditions of Central American countries.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its festive spirit during Christmas. One of its Christmas traditions is constructing a nativity scene or ‘El Portal’. This scene is often set up on the front lawn of churches, homes, and local institutions. The nativity scene is also accompanied by ‘faroles,’ which are homemade lanterns decorated with colored tissue paper and candles. During Christmas Eve, Costa Ricans prepare a big feast, which includes tamales, chocolates, and coffee.


Nicaragua’s Christmas traditions go beyond the usual nativity scenes and carols. The country celebrates La Purisima or “The Immaculate Conception” on December 8th, which commences the Christmas season. Small handmade altars or “nacimientos” are set up in homes, churches and streets to display the Virgin Mary with her parents, Saint Joachim and Saint Anne. Another tradition is to walk through the streets singing carols, while others offer traditional Nicaraguan food to anyone who passes by.

El Salvador

El Salvador’s Christmas traditions begin on December 16thwith the “Posada” celebrations. “Posada” is a reenactment of Mary and Joseph searching for a room before the birth of Jesus. People walk from house to house, carrying a statue of Mary and Joseph, asking for room, and are eventually welcomed into one of the houses with a big celebration. Another El Salvadorian tradition is to create intricate “alfombras” or carpets made from sawdust and flowers on the streets, which serve as a path for the procession during the Christmas parade.


In Honduras, the Christmas celebrations start with the traditional “Guancasco” parade, where people dress up in traditional clothes to honor the elders. Hondurans mark the beginning of the Christmas season by setting off fireworks on December 16th. On Christmas Eve or “Nochebuena,” families gather to celebrate with music, food, and exchange of gifts.


Panama is famous for its Christmas Carnival, which falls between Christmas and New Year’s. The carnival includes a parade, music, traditional Panamanian dances and costumes. Panamanians indulge in “nacatamales,” a dish consisting of meat cooked with rice, olives, prunes, onions, and raisins, wrapped in banana leaves.


Central America’s Christmas traditions reflect its rich culture and tradition. Each country has its unique way of celebrating the festival, and it’s exciting to learn about them. From nativity scenes to processions to big feasts, there is no limit to the festive spirit of Central American countries.

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