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AntiguaGuatemala Dec 19th, 2011 09:54 AM

Five Reasons to Spend Christmas in Antigua Guatemala
Yokobsens find many good reasons to spend Christmas in Antigua Guatemala. Here are five good reasons to spend Christmas in Antigua Guatemala.

Christmas in Antigua Guatemala Reason #1 - Low Crassness Factor

Antigua Guatemala keeps a light hand on the Christmas throttle. It's not like the in-your-face fake and be merry season, which starts before Halloween and is endured in our more Northern climes. Yes, there are lights and people shop for holiday food and presents, but its all much more low key than, say, in Toronto for example. The Central Park's trees are garlanded with lights and the La Catedral is draped with national colors. And yes, for a small cost, you can have your picture taken with one of several Santa Clauses who stand around "Las Sirenas" fountain in the middle of the park. But there's no sitting on their knees, no matter how forceful your drunken petitions, in case you were wondering.

Overall, there's less tinsel and more gentle feeling as citizens and visitors alike coast into the season, which really doesn't get going until December 7 when there's a massive turnout to watch the burning of the devil on the eve of the Immaculate Conception. True, there are constant fire crackers going off day and night, but otherwise people enjoy a low dosage of seasonal crassness.

Christmas in Antigua Guatemala Reason #2 - The Weather

For those of us used to walking through horizontal sleet and crowds of grumpy fellow shoppers and sales people to get our Christmas errands done, Antigua Guatemala is a yuletide paradise. Even during the December days when daylight is at its shortest reign of the year, it's usually about 75 degrees F (24 C) during the day and about 55 degrees F (13 C) in the evening. Sometimes it gets down to about 50 degrees F (10 C) at night and the fine citizens of Antigua Guatemala can be seen bundled up in extra sweaters, some of them in light parkas, gloves and mufflers wound around their chins. "Brrrrrr," indeed.

Christmas in Antigua Guatemala Reason #3 - No Christmas Cards

It seems that sending Christmas cards is not a tradition here. I'm sure in some quarters of Guatemala writing personal greetings on Currier and Ives motifs happens. But Mrs. Y had an epiphany recently when she set out to get some jolly seasonal cards. After, I'd gone to the third stationary shop (duh) it finally sunk in that this is not the done thing here. To those who love sending and receiving cards, well, better bring your own before you head down. For those of us who can take or leave the card thing, well, here you can find your bliss.

Christmas in Antigua Guatemala Reason # 4 - Christmas Festivals

Once December 7 hits the town, there are a series of Christmas festivals that warm up the town. December 7 kicks off the season with the burning of the devil. It's a spectacular event with the old bad guy going up in a blaze of firecrackers and flame. All through the season processions of various kinds walk through the town. Music, torches and fireworks accompany many of the festivals. Our Lady of Guadeloupe brings solemn as well as merry folk through the calles and avenidas, trailing music and fun wherever they go. "Las Posadas," which reenacts Mary and Joseph looking for a room in the inn, goes on for nine days in different neighborhoods. December 24 tops it all off with an outpouring of magnificent fireworks and music in the central plaza.

Christmas in Antigua Guatemala Reason #5 - Its Really a Family Time

While there are many displays and events, celebrated by the religious and secular alike, when it comes down to it, December 24 is really family time where church, a great meal and modest gift exchanges happen. When church lets out on at about 10 p.m. on the 24th, families go back home and eat and party until 3 or 4 in the morning. Christmas Day is very quiet here with people sleeping off the festivities of the night before. Unlike Canadians and Americans, weary revelers are not thinking about the bonanza of shopping that awaits them during the heavy sales days between December 26 and New Year's. It's quiet, except of course, for the ever ready magnum assault of firecrackers, which generally peter out after the first week of January.

hopefulist Dec 19th, 2011 08:41 PM


dfarmer Dec 21st, 2011 04:53 AM

What a delightful read. Oh how I wish......

Peter_Viviani Dec 22nd, 2011 10:47 AM

Thinking about going up to Antigua after January and my stay at Pachamama in costa rica ( Anyone recommend any good language schools up there?

hopefulist Dec 22nd, 2011 10:15 PM

I like the Academia Antigüeña:

My favorite school in Guatemala is on Lake Atitlán:

Happy trails!

Xenii Dec 25th, 2011 08:05 PM

Antigua is indeed a wonderful city.
Wishing Mr. and Mrs. Y would return to Canada
and forgo their blogs which seem very commercial.

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