Day 26

Happy St Stephen’s Day / Boxing Day!

Marisol Castellanos, IAPS PR Manager, has shared a description of traditional customs and food in Guatemala. The jIAPS December photo competition is still open – email or message us your photos to enter. 

Christmas in Guatemala is a time to share with the family and to enjoy the festivities and unique traditions that fuse the Mayan origins with the Catholic heritage.

Guatemalans celebrate Christmas at midnight on December 24. Before this time, they clean their houses, entertain guests or attend mass at their local churches. Gastronomy is undoubtedly an art for our tradition; at midnight we usually eat a ‘tamal’ with ‘pan frances’ (a type of bread) and ‘ponche’.

The main ingredient for Guatemalan tamales is corn (representative food for the Mayans) flour mixed with water. The stuffing is usually made from pork or chicken and glazed over with a flavorful tomato-based sauce known as ‘recado’. It is then garnished with tasty olives and sweet peppers, wrapped in banana leaves, and finally steamed.

The ‘Ponche’, (Christmas punch, fruit punch, or hot punch) is a popular Guatemalan drink made from slow-cooked fresh and dried fruit, sugar, and spices, which includes the following dried fruits: apple, sugar cane, raisins, dried prunes, manzanilla (yellow plums), guava, pineapple, plátano (plantain), tamarind, cinnamon, and hibiscus tea. All of these ingredients are put in a pot along with a gallon of water and brown sugar to taste (about a cup), and boiled for about 45 minutes.

This drink is usually served in the famous ‘Posadas’, an activity in which each person in their homes symbolically receives the baby Jesus as a symbol of birth, and they sing Christmas carols to celebrate.