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La Gritería in Diriamba

 

During the Christmas celebrations on December 7th, the people in Diriamba and all the Nicaraguans prepare themselves for their yearly traditions that honor the Immaculate Conception. This celebration is called La Purisima (The Most Pure). The prayers and songs for the Virgin Mary and the enjoyment of these festivities are such that they are called “La Noche de Griteria” (The Night of the Screaming).

During “La Griteria” a great majority of the country, particularly the young, are out there to sing with all their might until they lose their voices. They stop at each house, whose main entrance or porch is decorated, to sing for the Virgin Mary. The hymns sung to the Virgin are well known by all and are very old. Someone from the crowd will ask loudly, “What is the cause of our happiness?” And the chorus will answer, “The conception of the Virgin Mary"

Fireworks explode everywhere the entire time and treats are offered at every house. These treats might include rosquillas, leche de burra (a sweet called donkey’s milk) nacatamal (tamal stuffed with meat) oranges, lemons, and chopped caña (cane). The children get their treats in a bag and are even aloud to shoot at each other with water balloons. Finally the doors close when there are no more foods or candy to share.

 

In December elegant decorations fill homes and cities. On the outside of the houses, red poinsettias are an essential decoration. The interior decorations consist of orange balls filled with spicy cloves to which green lace has been attached to hang them from the doorways. These are called Muérdago and used like mistletoe. Their fragrance fills the room symbolizing the arrival of Christmas.

 

Houses are also decorated with red crepe paper. Women get together to cut out guirnaldas simulating the poinsettia, which in Nicaragua is called Flor del Pastor. The nativity is placed in a corner of the house to remind everyone that Jesus is the center of the celebration. In order to stimulate the Christmas spirit, Churches start to play carols at 4a.m. over loud speakers. On the morning of December 24th, Nicaraguans’ homes become happy places where families prepare dinner together. In Nicaragua, Christmas is a celebration where family and friends are invited to each others homes to celebrate the birth of Christ. The typical food for dinner is Valencian style rice similar to Paella, stuffed chicken, nacatamal, and freshly baked bread.

Spanish biscochos are served for dessert.

Late at night families prepare to go to church. The bells ring and the people go out to attend midnight mass. Inside the church incense is burned around the nativity scene, which occupies the entire top of the altar. Splinters of the ocote tree are added to the incense. When mass has ended people wait in line to kiss the Baby Jesus. Some people take some of the grass from the manger as a souvenir of the Mass. After Mass the people return home and place the Baby Jesus in the nativity to symbolize that finally HE has been born. Children then run around the house to find the presents that the Baby Jesus has left them.  In Nicaragua the 24th is a great day as it is the 25th of December.

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¡Que Viva la Virgen!

Watch Video of La Gritería Video


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