Christmas In Bolivia

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As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, I’m exited to share some Christmas traditions, and how we celebrate Christmas in Bolivia; my homeland.

(This post contains affiliate links, see my full disclosure here.)

Christmas in Bolivia - The Musings of Mum

My family immigrated to the United States when I was just 11 years old, my husband’s family arrived from the Philippines in the same year. Seven years later, we married and formed a family that has managed to keep Bolivian and Filipino traditions, while also adopting American traditions, and in recent years British traditions. I guess you can say we love Christmas, and we love to pass down traditions.

I’d love for you to grab a cup of hot chocolate, and learn a bit about how Christmas is celebrated in Bolivia.

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The Nativity and The Christ Child

In the latter weeks of November, every family sets-up elaborate nativity scenes. These include lakes, hills, houses, all sorts of animals, shepherds and angels. Many of these take up entire rooms in many homes. I remember working on our nativity setting for hours with both of my parents. Just take a look at some of the pictures below.

The Musings of Mum - Pesebres

The central piece of the nativity of course is the Christ child typically made of porcelain or plaster. It is typically passed down from generation to generation. Traditionally, it should be gifted to you, purchasing one for your own nativity is considered very bad luck.

Christmas in Bolivia - The Musings of Mum

This one belonged to my grandmother’s grandmother. Though it’s chipped in several places, and it’s not as fancy as others, it has a great deal of sentimental value. It has been passed down for 5 generations, and I will one day pass it down to my oldest daughter.

Yet another tradition related to the Christ child is to clothe him in new garments each year, and since a great majority of the Bolivian population is catholic, believers take the Christ to the Misa de Gallo (Christmas Mass) on Christmas Eve for a yearly blessing.

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The Food

The traditional Christmas meal is the Picana Navideña or Lechón al Horno.
The Picana Navideña is a tasty meaty soup, that has chicken, beef, and lamb. It’s served with fresh cheese, potatoes, celery, squash, carrots, onions. It is mainly seasoned with parsley, oregano, salt, white pepper and wine. You can see the complete recipe here.
The Lechón al Horno (pork roast) is served with potatoes, sweet potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Check out the recipe here.
Of course, it’s not Christmas in our house without panettone, hot chocolate and if we get really lucky, some api (hot sweet drink made of purple and white corn).

The Celebration

Like in most countries around the world, singing villancicos (Christmas carols) is common in Bolivia. Children go door to door singing and dancing, and often getting some hot chocolate and buñuelos (fritters) in return.
Families gather for the traditional Picana or Lechón and fellowship on December 24th. The celebration continues until late in the evening with singing, dancing and a brindis de Noche Buena (Christmas Eve toast) right at midnight.
Gifts are exchanged after midnight, so the celebration can last all night. It often does at our house!
Christmas in Bolivia - The Musings of Mum
On Christmas Day, breakfast consists of sweet breads, buñuelos, panettone, hot chocolate and api.  The Christmas festivities and gatherings last until Día de Reyes, the Epiphany celebrating the day the Three Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem bearing gifts for the Christ child.
To read more about our family’s Christmas traditions, read my contributor post on the iHomeschool Network blog here, and to learn how other countries around the world celebrate Christmas, click on the image below.
What are some of your family’s Christmas traditions?

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  1. I was using this site for a presintation on christmas in the western hemisphere. and I got chose for bolivia. but I am stuck on what the traditional gift extange looks like.

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