Christmas in El Salvador is a holiday that has many customs and traditions that have been passed on from generations. Christmas celebrations are a significant part of the country’s culture and history; every year, family members of all ages spend weeks preparing for it.
The possibility of not spending Christmas in El Salvador, and missing the many customs and traditions, is something that most Salvadorans don’t want to think about it or consider doing.
For example, some common Christmas customs and traditions are family gatherings, the food, the fireworks, and Los Nacimientos or nativity scenes. Furthermore, during this holiday, people in communities or neighborhoods go out of their way to embrace each other.
Absolutely, Christmas in El Salvador is the time of the year that everyone in the country looks forward to; no one wants to miss the holiday’s customs and traditions.
Family gathering during the Christmas holidays.
A family gathering is one of the best traditions El Salvador has during Christmas. Salvadorans travel long distances to be with loves ones during this holiday.
During December, the International airport in El Salvador gets extra busy. Many Salvadorans living abroad take this time to travel to the country and spend time with family and friends.
Families do different things during Christmas gatherings. For example, some families attend religious activities together. Whereas other families stay at home, play music, dance, or simply hang out and talk with each other.
All in all, Christmas family gatherings are great to see relatives that you haven’t seen all year or even longer.
During the Christmas holidays, families go out of the way to prepare traditional foods and specific recipes for the immediate family.
Some of the traditional foods prepared for Christmas are Tamales, Pan con Pollo, and Quesadillas. These foods are prepared in larger quantities as they serve a few purposes.
Traditional Christmas food is given to anyone who just happens to visits during the holiday; showing up unannounced is a regular thing to do in Salvadoran culture. Also, these foods are giving as gifts to relatives and neighbors. Lastly, the traditional food is there for any family member to eat at any point.
Specific recipes are prepared for the immediate family to eat during Christmas dinner. Examples of these recipes are Lomo Relleno, Lasagna, Roasted Chicken, etc. When it comes to specific foods for Christmas dinner, each family decides on what they want to prepare.
Unmistakably, the types of Salvadoran food prepared for Christmas is a tradition that makes this holiday better.
The fireworks during Christmas.
Setting off fireworks is a Christmas tradition enjoyed by Salvadorans all over the country. This tradition can be seen and hear Christmas eve at midnight. Also, it can be observed throughout the month all over the territory.
On Christmas eve, right before midnight, almost everyone lights up fireworks; during this time, fireworks being light up filled the streets with smoke.
Additionally, in December, you will observe fireworks being set off all over and at any time. El Salvador has no restrictions on when and where fireworks can be set off.
Fireworks in El Salvador is a Christmas tradition, which over the last few years, has caused controversy and is disappearing. Since the country has no laws on who, where, and when fireworks can be set off.
Every year, during the Christmas holidays, many people get injured, especially minors. Most of the injuries reported are severe burns. However, in some cases, injuries are more critical as the loss of fingers or even death.
Fireworks during Christmas is a tradition that most Salvadorans love.
Los Nacimientos or nativity scene.
In El Salvador, families take the nativity scenes or Los Nacimientos seriously. Some families spend days setting up their nativity scenes to impress others.
Generally, native scenes are different in each house. They can be modest setups or complex as to have their own water fountain or light show.
Setting up the nativity scene is a Salvadoran Christmas tradition that makes this holiday more attractive.
The community and neighborhoods during Christmas.
During the Christmas holidays, members of some communities or neighborhoods go the extra mile to be more inclusive of each other.
People in these communities give away some of the traditional foods they have prepared to neighbors as gifts. Additionally, at midnight on the 24th, after the customary hug has been shared among family members; people, go into the street, hug neighbors, and wish them a merry Christmas.
Although this tradition is in decline, it is still visible, especially in smaller neighborhoods. Embracing others in the community during Christmas is a pleasant Salvadoran tradition worth doing.
Other local traditions during Christmas in El Salvador.
El Salvador has other small traditions that make this holiday even more special. Obviously, not everyone in the country follows them; however, they are worth mentioning.
As one of my uncles told me, you haven’t experienced Christmas in El Salvador until you have danced to La Bala on Christmas eve and take a trip to the beach on Christmas day. Also, you must do the Estreno on Christmas eve and eat Recalentados the following days.
- Dancing to La Bala Song.
La Bala is a classic song popular during Christmas eve; it is a silly song that Salvadorans, especially the older generation like to dance at some point during the night. Click here to see a video of this song.
- Going to the beach on December 25th.
Basically, Salvadorans celebrate Christmas on the 24th at midnight. Therefore, taking a trip to the beach on the 25th is a popular tradition for Salvadorans.
- El Estreno on Christmas eve.
El Estreno is just wearing something new for Christmas eve; it does not matter what it is, shoes, pants, skirts, shirts, etc. Many Salvadorans will make sure to wear something new, Estrenar, during Christmas eve.
- Eating Recalentados.
Recalentados is a Spanish word for leftovers. Since families prepared so much food for Christma eve; and also get multiple food gifts from family or neighbors, there is plenty of leftover food to eat for days.
These small traditions are what makes Christmas in El Salvador special. Yes, they might be silly in nature but are part of the Salvadoran culture.
Christmas in El Salvador.
This national holiday, for many different reasons, is one of the most popular in the country.
Salvadorans from all ages, kids to adults, look forward to it, to spend time with family, eat the tasty food, set off fireworks, and have fun.
Without a doubt, spending Christmas in El Salvador is a fantastic event that can’t be described; you must experience it yourself.