Tuesday, December 8, 2009

La Purísima

One of the most widespread holidays in Nicaragua is La Purísima. December 7th is the actual holiday, but the celebration really takes place the night of the 7th and people have off work the next day, after many of them have stayed up all night celebrating. What are they celebrating, you might wonder? The "Purist (hence Purísima) Conception of Mary" or what is more commonly known as the Immaculate Conception. A taxi driver was explaining to us that everyone in Nicaragua celebrates this holiday, whether they are religious or not. He, in fact, had no religion, but of course would be celebrating.

Here is a paragraph that describes how they celebrate:

"Imagine ‘La Purísima’ like this: a richly decorated altar is placed in a corner of a family house, with a statue of the Virgin Mary‘s image. In front of this altar, a lot of chairs are arranged, that will be occupied by family members, friends, and neighbors invited by the house owners to celebrate. Once all the guests arrive, the celebration starts with prayers to the virgin, but these are alternated with traditional songs. All the assistants accompany with whistles, tambourines and other instruments. While this takes place inside the house, outside some family members fire rockets and the so called ‘caraga cerrada’, (firecrackers) that contribute a lot to the boisterous celebration. Meanwhile the singings and prayers take place, the host distributes to his/her guests fruits, traditional sweets, caramels, traditional drinks, sugar-cane and many other gifts."

What it means to us is NOISE. For the past 24 hours, I have had to remind myself that we are not in the middle of a warzone as we are constantly hearing the explosions of firecrackers near and far. Today when we were driving away from Spanish class, we had to suddenly stop because a celebrating Nicaraguan set off an array of firecrackers in the middle of the street some 15 feet ahead of us. It's been entertaining to say the least.

1 comment:

  1. I really like this post... I have to say that at my house at midnight on the 7th there was a very impressive sounding "boisterous celebration" as you put it. I actually wasn't really upset that it woke me up, but I also knew the celebrating was soon coming to an end... Gloria a Dios!


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