Christmas in Honduras

December 30, 2009

My first Honduran Christmas, 5 years ago was a small family party.  Suffering from pregnancy related morning sickness, and very homesick I didn’t really enjoy it.  This year was different.  Noisy, sometimes chaotic, and a lot of fun, it was completely different to any Christmas I have ever had. Here’s some photos and thoughts on our Honduran Christmas.

Christmas starts here at the end of October when Christmas trees and decorations begin appearing in public spaces.  The malls in particular seem to be trying to outdo each other with the size and decoration of their trees – these two toy-covered trees are at two different malls in Tegucigalpa.

Decorations in Honduras are not all about the trees however, and naticity scenes (nacimientos) are very traditional.  This one was also at a mall.

While I am used to nativity scenes of the stable, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and the animals et al, Honduran nacimientos are often large and show multiple scenes.  The mall nacimiento showed village and town scenes, and a series of scenes related to the current political events.  This one shows President Zelaya being removed from his bed by the military, with the plane waiting to take him to Costa Rica.  Others showed Micheletti accepting the presidency, the elections, and the resistencia.  The whole series was fascinating and I’ve been meaning to give it a post of it’s own.  Maybe I should.

Being here only temporarily we didn’t want to invest a lot in a tree and decorations so we had fun improvising.  Our tree was a small live pine from the vivero (plant nursery) next door, decorated with small ribbon bows, Ferero Rocher balls, a set of cheap lights and a $1 corn husk angel. Other decorations included paper angels and snowflakes made by myself and my daughter, and a beautiful poinsettia, also from the vivero next door.

Of course being temporary here didn’t mean we weren’t able to enjoy some other Christmas traditions like baking and eating.  This is the non-ginger gingerbread house my daughter and I made (I couldn’t find ginger in Tegucigalpa so we made the gingerbread from spice cookie dough – it was very yummy and might well become a permanent substitute in our house!).

The nacimiento above is in the home of a relative of my husbands’. On Christmas Eve we spent most of the afternoon and part of the evening visiting friends and relatives.  This is actually a very traditional way to spent Christmas Eve, going from house to house visiting (and eating nacatamales!).  We started early, travelling an hour to visit with my husbands family before returning to home to visit friends here.

Another family nacimiento complete with blown egg people (named after relatives!) and other hand-made decorations.

After the visiting we returned home and joined our neighbours for the rest of the evening.  Hondurans celebrate on Christmas Eve and celebrate we did.  I don’t have many photos of this, but it included plenty of food, alcohol, dancing and fireworks!  The food was an interesting mix.  The family is mixed Honduran -American and so there was turkey with cranberries and mashed potato alongside a Honduran ‘carneada’ (bbq) with plenty of meat and tortillas.

We almost missed the midnight celebration (hugs and kisses, fireworks and present exchange) as my daughter finally crashed just before midnight despite the noise.  The party was still in full swing when I went to bed at 3am.

Despite the late night our lovely 4 year old was up at 6:45 and looking for her presents from Santa.  We managed to squeeze another half hour or so in bed while she emptied her stocking and watched a DVD, but eventually we had to get up.  While Hondurans open presents on Christmas Eve, we kept most of our family presents and a couple of “Santa” ones to be opened on Christmas morning as is the NZ tradition.  The rest of the day was very quiet.  Very very quiet, with most part-goers only crawling out into the sunshine sometime around mid-day.  We didn’t do a big Christmas lunch, but I had managed to find some good ham and enjoyed that for lunch with lots of fresh vegetables, in a semi-traditional kiwi way.  My daughter enjoyed hers with tortillas, and my Honduran husband enjoyed more nacatamales.

While I still find it hard to be away at Christmas, and miss my family in NZ (and Christmas mince pies and pavlova with real cream) this was a good Christmas and a lot of fun. I feel blessed to be able to share in the traditions of another culture and we will certainly be keeping both Honduran and Kiwi traditions each Christmas as much as we can. Now to get lots of rest and prepare myself for a real Honduran New Years…

5 Responses to “Christmas in Honduras”

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  3. […] Christmas in Honduras December 2009 3 comments 5 […]

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