I’ve decided to rename Nicaragua from the land of lakes and volcanoes to the land of bombas and tubas. The month of December has been a celebration of Purisima, the miracle of the Virgin birth, and has consisted of late night parades, juegos artificiales – firecrackers large and small, and music of all kinds.
The parades, which sometimes start at three or four am, are both in celebration of the Virgin Mary and to scare off bad spirits hiding on street corners. They often included bombas, loud explosions, as well as various sound-making instruments from tubas, conch shells, animal horns or drums.
Christmas is celebrated here primarily on Christmas Eve with time spent with families and gathered in the streets. As the sun set last night, there were large groups outside almost every door in town. Older folks sat in folding chairs and the children ran circles setting off small firecrackers and dancing with sparklers.
I enjoyed a few strains of “Silver Bells” last night playing from a Hospedaje on the Calzada on my way to eat a traditional lasagna dinner with my sister and a friend. I smiled to hear the Christmas carol talking of snow on city streets as I walked down the dusty, wind-blown calle on a muggy night.
Following our celebration with North American food, it was time to head out to join the late night party. Only one restuarant was still open, and the tables had spilled down the street and in front of a neighboring business on a sidewalk to accommodate all the revelers. Each table was full of smiling locals or tourists taking in a tropical Christmas Eve.
On heading back to the barrio, I passed house upon house with loud music playing, live DJ’s on hand hailing party-goers and friends walking by, and lots and lots of baby firecrackers. Explosions ahead, to each side, and behind dogged each step home. The moon and stars burned bright in a clear sky, and the Latin Christmas spirit boomed loud.
The party crescendoed at midnight with everybody setting off their entire arsenal of firecrackers and bombas large and small. Larger, colorful fireworks exploded in the air, small booms sounded from the front of every house, and whoops and cheers erupted. There was no “quiet all through the house” here!
Feliz, feliz, feliz navidad!