Devils, Parades and Rum

Devils, Parades and Rum

December 08, 2020

How French Toast and Tamales Symbolize the Guatemalan Holidays (Not at the same time though)


Today we are travelling to the land of many trees, Guatemala! 

 Guatemalan coffee can be found around the world and is renowned for its great taste. You will never be far from a coffee farm when you are exploring the Guatemalan highlands!

Devil burning

Burning of the Devil

La Quema del Diablo (The Burning of the Devil) officially kicks the holiday season off when Guatemalan citizens take to the streets to burn piñatas of the devil. 

 Yes, you read that right! On December 7th at 6 pm, people burn the models of Satan as this is meant to release any negative energy and let go of any bad things that had occurred in the previous year. This is viewed as a cleansing of both the individual soul and the collective home.

Defeat Complete, Time to Feast

 After the successful demise of the Satanic models, December 8th brings about the Procesíon de le Virgen de Concepcíon (Feast of the Immaculate Conception).

 This Catholic event celebrates the conception of Mary without sin in her mother’s womb, not the birth of Jesus like it is commonly referred to. A large statue of the Virgin Mary is either carried by people or pulled behind a vehicle, around towns for everyone to admire.

 Citizens following the statue sing songs and celebrate throughout the course of the procession. The route concludes then the status is brought back to the church it is housed in, following with a mass in her honour.


Devotion, Identity and Patriotism

 Guatemalans continue their religious celebrations just four days later with Our Mother of Guadalupe Day. 

 On December 12th, parents around the country dress their children in Indigenous customs and proceed to do a procession with sparklers to the nearest church with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe to ask for its blessing. Any newborns from the previous year will also be brought to the church by their parents to see the Virgin and receive the first blessings and support.

 The Virgin of Guadalupe is a powerful symbol of devotion, identity and patriotism. While this is a holiday that originated in Mexico and spread throughout all the territories of New Spain in 1746, Guatemala included.


Nine Days of Parades

 Las Posadas kicks off on December 16th and continues for the next nine days. This event symbolizes the nine months that Mary was pregnant and recreates the journey of Mary and Joseph on their trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem.


Processions of images with Joseph and Mary dressed as pilgrims are paraded throughout Guatemalan towns. When someone decides to organize a Posada, they must then find nine different houses to host it, each house featuring an alter and specific arrangement depending on which night they are hosting. 


Each night, the statues are carried to three different houses. People of the procession enter the first two homes and recite a dialogue, with those carrying the statues denied entry, symbolizing the households that had turned away Mary and Joseph. 

 The statues are welcomed into the third house every evening, with the statues staying in the house until the next night when the procession begins again.

 Participants are divided into two groups, with one half staying in the selected house and the other carrying the images outside. Upon arrival at the designated house, both groups combine to sing and pray, recite the holy rosary and enjoy a meal.


Fireworks of Christmas

Christmas is celebrated on December 24th, with families gathering to partake in celebrations together. 

It begins with a procession to the local church for Misa de Gallo (Midnight Mass), with the float being picked up from the last house of Las Posadas.

Fireworks fill the night sky as hundreds of families light fireworks to celebrate the birth of Jesus at midnight. After the fireworks, families join together to recite a prayer around the Christmas tree and begin to open presents.

This is truly a night of celebrating, with the night spent chatting, drinking, playing games and having lots of fun! 

December 25th is when the majority of Guatemalans stay at home, eating delicious leftovers from the night before in their favourite pyjamas. This is a day to sleep in, relax and enjoy the company of your family. Fireworks begin again at midday to continue the celebrations.

A Hot Tamale

Keeping with the reputation of delicious Guatemalan food, their traditional Christmas food is no different!

Delicious Christmas tamales are the staple of the meal, with only a few key differences found in a few ingredients used from the traditional Guatemalan tamal recipe. Everyone in attendance tastes the traditional dish and remembers the hundreds of years of Guatemalan history in celebration.


Latin French Toast Anyone?

During Las Posadas, Tostadas, fried tortillas with toppings, are served each of the nine nights and after every mass. The three types: refried beans with queso seco, guacamole, and red sauce are served alongside tamales and chuchitos (smaller tamales).

fruit punch

Ponche de Frutas (Fruit Punch) is a signature holiday drink in this Central American country and is crafted by boiling pieces of:

  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya


These boiled fruits are then combined with sugar, raisins, cinnamon and Rum Zacapa! Unless there are underage children enjoying the punch, where this ingredient is omitted.

On December 24th, this delicious drink is complemented with more traditional dishes such as the traditional Christmas Turkey and a Leg of Pork. Pan Telera (Torta Rolls) are served to dip in any of the various side dishes that individuals' families craft for the celebration.

The Christmas dinner is concluded by the scrumptious desserts of Torrejas, the delicious Latin American version of French toast, and Buñuelos, deep-fried fritters served with delicious syrup or honey on top. 

Month of Celebrations

As a largely religious country, Guatemala puts a large emphasis on traditional religious celebrations. Aside from Easter, December is one of the most important months for celebrations throughout the country.

We are looking forward to virtually enjoying viewing Guatemalan celebrations as they take place throughout the country, and we hope that you will enjoy it will us! If you create some of the delicious traditional dishes, don’t be afraid to share some with us and how they were!


Guatemala and Road Coffee

Our Guatemalan blend is what we call bad, boujee and sensational! This lightly-roasted, round-bodied coffee features sweet, juicy flavours with citrus and cocoa also making themselves known. This coffee is sure to get the good vibes flowing whether you’re taking it easy, using those creative juices or just straight-up getting things done!

Try it today and take a trip to Guatemala! 

Author Jordan Calladine