As the month of November nears its end in Nicaragua, there is a buzz of excitement in the air. Each day there are more and more colorful lights shining from houses, and as if with impatience for the holidays to begin, fireworks are sporadically sounding off… foreshadowing the weeks to come. Children are anxiously finalizing their school year and are ready for their two-month school break to begin, while older students and the Empowerment staff are excitedly preparing for the primary school and high school graduations.
The up-and-coming year-end holidays are very important to Nicaraguans, and the celebrations officially commence on November 29th and continue into the first week of January.
Commencing on November 29th, “La Purisima” is the first notable 9-day event that ultimately celebrates the conception of the Virgin Mary. In Granada, there are nightly processions where a figurine of the Virgin Mary is carried lovingly down a different main street each night, followed by a joyful crowd of locals. Explosions are heard often from fireworks as part of the nightly celebrations and snacks and holiday treats are sold on the crowded streets. Meanwhile, inside many homes, there are smaller private gatherings usually around an altar. This is where friends, neighbors, and family pray and sing together. Afterward, the host distributes gifts such as fruits, sweets, caramels, traditional drinks, sugar cane, and more.
The 8th night of Purisima culminates in the celebration of the Conception of Mary and is called “La Gritería” (the shouting). The greeting is “Quien causa tanta Alegria?!” and the response is “La Concepcion de Maria!”... or “Who causes so much joy? The conception of Mary!”
Stay tuned for more about the December holidays in our next Post...