Because we are Christians, the Christmas season (that is, from approximately Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day) is one in which our family is particularly focused on Jesus.  Traditions my husband and I (both raised in believing families) experienced as children included attending Christmas Eve candlelight service, giving gifts in celebration of Christ’s birth, and gathering with family to rejoice not only in the gift of earthly life but also in the promise of life eternal through Christ.

Our youngest son was born in Guatemala.  The traditions he may have experienced there vary greatly from ours.  One of the most exciting elements about combining cultures through intercountry adoption is the converging of traditions — particularly holiday traditions.

When we prepared for his homecoming, my husband and I began celebrating some fo the Guatemalans holidays with our children.  Christmastime, called "Noche Buena" (literally — good night and meant to signify the night of Christ’s birth) is a unique combination of the ancient Mayan people and European Catholic immigrants.  The traditions celebrated in Guatemala are different from other Central American countries and from general Catholic customs.

Some of my favorite Noche Buena traditions include:
– firecrackers (cohetes) set off every night
– rosaries of pine and chamomile hang around doorways (I can only imagine the fragrance)
– life-sized nativities displayed everywhere, including colored sawdust manger scenes (you really have to see this to believe it)
– elaborate Christmas trees
– on Christmas Eve, families gather together to enjoy traditional fare of punch and tamales and to exchange gifts

This year I hoped to let the kids do sparklers outside in celebration of Christmas and in honor of our youngest child’s birth country.  The impending blizzard may get the upperhand this time, but I have Guatemalan cocoa mix and coffee on hand and our 3 Guatemalan nativities are displayed.  Next year I hope to tackle tamales, and I’d love to get my hands on a traditional ponche (punch) recipe.

Which Christmas traditions does your family celebrate?  Share your stories with others and celebrate the gift of Jesus, born for ALL people in ALL places for ALL time.  Katelyn’s Fund Orphan Ministry wishes you a very merry Christmas and bountiful blessings in the New Year!

Our 14-month-old son celebrating Christmas
with his foster mama in Guatemala ~
Yep, that’s a sparkler… indoors.